On the subject of embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, Conrad Black – former guest of the U.S. penal system, former millionaire newspaper-chain owner and current television talk-show host – has had a change of heart. Sort of.
According to Newstalk1010 Radio’s website, an interview last month with Mr. Black suggested that Mr. Ford was not the ex-media baron’s “candidate of choice in the last municipal election and (that) Toronto deserves someone with a little more dignity than a person like Ford. ‘People saying what kind of example he’s set’ (said Mr. Black). ‘Well, maybe it’s not a great example, but that’s what you have elections for.’”
Having had a moment or two to reflect, Mr. Black now thinks “the piling on to Mayor Ford has been excessive.”
One may speculate as to the precise amount of “piling on” Mr. Black considers acceptable, but his point is simply that Mr. Ford “was elected mayor of Toronto.” Therefore, reason allows, “those who do not like his style will be free to vote against if he runs again. If there is sufficient evidence to prosecute him with crimes, due process should be followed. But he should be accorded a full presumption of innocence unless he is justly convicted. Beyond that his accusers should put up or shut up.”
Mr. Black comes to these conclusions – posted to the blog site of his TV show, The Zoomer – following an hour-long chat with Mr. Ford last week. The interview appears tonight on the Vision network. After which, Mr. Black is sure to lament, “Gadzooks, the piling of the scrofulous media degenerates, exhibiting undiminished determination, continues unabatedly.”
For the moment, what we do know is that Mr. Ford doesn’t mind sharing. In fact, he tells his new chum, “If they want me to do a drug test, a urine test, I’ll do one right now. If there’s any drugs in my system, any alcohol in my system. . . I have no problem doing that test.”
To which Mr. Black responds with almost avuncular solicitude, “Rob, there is absolutely no need to do a urine test right now.”
That’s right, Roddie, old boy: At least wait until you’re done with the interview.
Some will see the pairing of Messrs. Black and Ford as odd.
After all, Mr. Black is a scion of the Canadian establishment, a recipient of a privileged and excellent education, a famously successful businessman, an accomplished historian and author, a British peer who renounced his Canadian citizenship, and an ex-con who was (he insists) wrongly incarcerated on trumped-up charges of fraud and obstruction of justice.
Mr. Ford is. . .well, none of those things.
Rather, he is the son plain, working stock, who grew up and went to public schools in Toronto’s vast suburban wasteland. As a politician, he’s a right-wing populist and a proud flag-waving Canadian who, somewhat incongruously, likes immigrants because immigrants, by and large, keep electing his impressively rotund rear end into office whether or not he admits to drinking to excess (he does) or smoking crack cocaine (again, he does) or referring to a certain part of the female anatomy in crudely animalistic terms (one of those “inflammatory malapropisms” Mr. Black, himself, has warned Mr. Ford to avoid deploying whenever possible).
Mr. Ford is bologna and white bread. Mr. Black is caviar and toast points. Mr. Ford is yellow mustard. Mr Black is Chablis Dijon. Mr. Ford is a pickup truck. Mr. Black is a Bentley Mulsanne.
Still, the combination works precisely because it is so bizarre. The various controversies and public outrages that have made their respective careers so publicly accessible unite them – one, elite; the other, hoi polloi – in a sentiment that a growing number of Canadians – regardless of backgrounds – share: the media, as Mr. Ford has inelegantly put it, are maggots.
Do you want to act like an idiot whilst holding public office? Forget it; it’s not going to happen. Blame the media.
Do you want people to stop asking impertinent questions about embarrassing circumstances, even though such circumstances are a matter of police investigations? You’d have better luck finding a snowball in hell. Blame the media.
And while you are at it, stay away from mirrors. Like TV cameras, they add ten pounds, mostly to that region between the ears.