Rob Ford, Toronto's conservative mayor, is a wild lunatic given to making bizarre racist pronouncements and randomly slapping refrigerator magnets on cars. One reason for this is that he smokes crack cocaine. I know this because I watched him do it, on a videotape. He was fucking hiiiiigh. It's for sale if you've got six figures.
It began like this: We've made fun of Ford before for his bizarre pronouncements and nude pictures. Last week, we got a tip from someone claiming to have a videotape of Ford smoking crack. Would we like to buy it?
Update: Go here to contribute to the Rob Ford Crackstarter. We are crowdsourcing $200,000 to buy and publish the video.
The tipster made the following claims:
• Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smokes crack cocaine.
• There is a video of Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine, taken within the last six months.
• Rob Ford purchases his crack cocaine from a crew of Toronto drug dealers that service a veritable who's who of A-list...Torontonians? Torontites? Anyway, a lot of prominent people in Toronto purchase and enjoy crack and powder cocaine, and they all buy it from the same folks. The same folks Ford buys it from. Ford's longtime friend, people on his staff, his brother, a prominent hockey analyst, and more.
As evidence of his claims, our tipster provided the photo above. It shows Ford hanging out with a number of people. The gentleman standing to his right, flipping the camera the bird, is Anthony Smith. Smith, a 21-year-old college student, was killed two months ago outside a Toronto nightclub in a gangland-style shooting. A photo, from a CBC story on his murder, is at left. Smith was, according to our tipster, a kid from the same neighborhood as the dealers who service Ford, and the photo was taken while Ford was going to the neighborhood to purchase and smoke crack cocaine.
If you're curious about the photo's veracity, at left is another photo, from the National Post, of Ford wearing the same sweatshirt.
Needless to say, the story intrigued me. I asked the tipster for a screengrab of the video to verify that he had what he claimed to have. He refused. If I wanted to see the video, I was going to have to go to Toronto. He sounded confident enough. Certain things that he told me checked out. So off I went.
Toronto is lovely. Our first effort to meet up, at a Toronto bus station at night, fizzled. The tipster was there, but the person who actually had possession of the video was a no-show. The tipster and I retired to a coffee shop to talk Toronto politics and Rob Ford's curious history—his rise as a sort of oddly drunken, brazenly honest conservative voice in a decidedly liberal and polite city. It was a nice night, but I was beginning to worry I'd been had.
The next morning, I connected again with the tipster. He was going to locate the owner of the video, he told me. Last night, there had been a mix-up. The video was being stored in a safe place, but the person who had access to the safe place had briefly disappeared, and so the owner couldn't get access to the safe place to get the device on which the video was stored. By the morning, however, the tipster and the owner had located the person who had access to the safe place. This was going to happen.
Checkout time was at noon. My flight was at 7:30 p.m. I loitered around downtown Toronto, checking out the mall, until I got the text: We were to meet up at a chain restaurant near the airport. The tipster picked me up from the restaurant and drove me to a housing development. The owner of the video would meet us there.
We sit idling in his car, making small talk. The tipster calls the owner and talks in language other than English. "He'll be right down," he says. Fifteen minutes pass. "Waiting for the elevator," he says. Ten minutes pass. A young gentleman opens the rear door of the car and gets in. The two men speak in a language other than English. The young gentleman immediately exits the vehicle. No video.
The tipster looks at me: "The battery is dead." The young gentleman—the owner of the video—needed to go back upstairs to charge the battery on the device that contained the video. We wait. More small talk.
The owner of the video returns. He thrusts a device, a phone with a touchscreen, in my face. "Can I hold it?" I ask.
I crane my neck. It plays.
Here is what the video shows: Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, is the only person visible in the frame. Prior to the trip, I spent a lot of time looking at photographs of Rob Ford. The man in the video is Rob Ford. It is well-lit, clear. Ford is seated, in a room in a house. In one hand is a a clear, glass pipe. The kind with a big globe and two glass cylinders sticking out of it. In the other hand is a lighter. A slurred voice off-camera is ranting about Canadian politics in what sounds like an attempt to goad Ford. "Pierre Trudeau was a faggot!" is the one phrase the lodges in my mind. Ford, pipe in one hand and lighter in the other, is laughing, and mildly protesting at the sacrilege. He seems to keep trying to light the pipe, but keeps stopping to laugh. He is red-faced and sweaty, heaving with each breath. Finally, he finds his moment and lights up. He inhales.
Update: The Toronto Star, whose reporters have also seen the video, say that it's Justin Trudeau—Pierre's son and the leader of the Liberal Party in Canada—and not Pierre getting called a "faggot." It's hard to keep all these Canadians apart. The Star also has Ford himself, and not the voice off-screen, making the "faggot" remark, though that's not how I remember it.
In one move, the owner stops the video and draws the device back into his pocket.
"You took this?" I ask.
"Within the last six months."
"You're sure it's crack?"
"You've seen him smoke crack before?"
"Yes. Gotta jet."
And he is gone.
So: That was a video of the mayor of Toronto smoking crack. The trouble is, the owner wants money. More money than I am willing to pay. The tipster has already reached out to one other news outlet, a Canadian organization that he refused to name, which offered $40,000. The owner rejected that. He thinks he can get six figures. It's unlikely he's going to get six figures.
But I am going to try. The tipster wants this video out. Rob Ford needs to be held to account. The owner just wants money—preferably enough to get out of town after this blows up, since he doesn't think it will be safe for him. The tipster and I both fear that the owner will try to sell the video back to Ford. That would be a shame.
So if Gawker can't come up with enough money to ring this owner's bell, perhaps we can find a partner. This isn't just the mayor of Toronto smoking crack cocaine, after all: This is Toronto Confidential. There are a host of important local officials wrapped up in this drug ring. 60 Minutes? No. Dateline NBC? No. Inside Edition? No. National Enquirer? No. CNN? Maybe!
Well, no. But when I emailed an acquaintance at CNN this afternoon, laying out much the same information I've offered above and asking for discretion and confidentiality lest we screw up a pretty fucking great story about the mayor of the fifth-largest city in North America smoking crack cocaine on camera, he forwarded the email to his producer. The producer, in turn, asked CNN's Canada reporter about it. The Canada reporter—and this was a pretty fucking big mistake—called a source who used to work in Ford's office. Within 40 minutes, word had gotten back to me that "CNN called Ford's office asking about a crack tape."
And so here we are. The owner still hasn't found a buyer with pockets deep enough to meet his demands. But word is out around Toronto now that the tape exist, and Ford's circle knows about it courtesy a CNN reporter. So, with permission, I am laying out everything I know about the Rob Ford Crack Tape in the hopes that a) everyone knows that Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, smokes crack, and b) this knowledge might hasten the arrival of the Rob Ford Crack Tape on the internet or broadcast television, because really, it is something to behold.
If you want to buy it, let me know. I can put you in touch with a guy.
Ford's office did not immediately respond to an email.
Update: We've received an email from Dennis Morris, a gentleman with a hotmail.com email address purporting to be Ford's attorney. Here is the message. We haven't corrected its formatting.
Greetings;I am a lawyer,and have been contacted by Mayor Ford's office in reference to your indicating you will post a photo of Mayor Ford smoking crack cocaine. Mayor Ford denies such took place,and if such posting occurs,it is false and defamatory,and you will be held legally accountable.In reference to the photo,you wish to publish, Mayor Ford has his photo taken daily,sometimes with others.
If the person you mention is now deceased,it is sad,regardless of his alleged background.
Please govern yourself accordingly.
To contact the author of this post, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Images via National Post and CBC]