TORONTO, Canada: While Rob Ford’s antics are the focus of a spiraling scandal gripping Toronto, the infamy of his misdeeds has only been made possible by the phalanx of journalists covering his every move.
Reporters, cameramen and producers from around the world have for 10 days been packed into the narrow second-floor corridors outside Ford’s office at City Hall.
It started when the mayor admitted to once smoking crack cocaine in a “drunken stupor.” He then waded into deeper trouble with his revelations of driving drunk and mingling with a suspected prostitute. When he attempted to dispel the allegations he made an obscene outburst. And through it all he has refused to quit.
What had been the beat of a handful of local politics reporters is now making headlines worldwide.
“There are crime reporters in the lobby,” one councilor complained.
American television networks have broadcast Toronto city council meetings live, while elected officials gave interviews to global news outlets.
Canadian newspapers such as The Globe and Mail and the National Post assigned teams of reporters to cover Ford’s downward spiral. International coverage has come from Britain and from the US late-night talk show circuit.
“God bless Canada, what a gift the Canadians have given us,” said “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno as part of his Thursday night monologue.
“Late Night” host Jimmy Fallon quipped: “It’s official, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is the best.”
For Canadians, the world spotlight is unfamiliar.
“We’re not used to that, having our mayor on the front pages of papers around the world,” said Andrew Coyne, a political columnist for the National Post daily who was on hand at City Hall to provide commentary for CNN.
“This is world-class levels of dysfunction in a person to begin with, and obviously it’s fodder for the late-night comics.
“For the world, it’s the combination of extraordinary levels of misbehavior on the part of the mayor and the seeming inability of City Hall to come to grips with it. It’s unusual that somebody with that level of dysfunction would continue on, would refuse to go, and could not be removed. So it becomes almost like a hostage-taking.”