Toronto Mayor Rob Ford challenges media to a debate, The Grid’s senior editor obliges
Mayor Rob Ford returned to his Newstalk1010 radio show with brother Councillor Doug Ford after their summer hiatus on Sunday, challenging reporters to a debate in light of the media's coverage of them over the last week. And within 24 hours, Edward Keenan, The Grid’s senior editor, had taken him up on it.
The Fords' tumultuous week in the media began with The Globe and Mail’s Kelly Grant reporting that the Mayor had been misusing City staff and resources to help coach his community football teams, and Doug Ford telling AM 640’s John Oakley that Grant was lazy and a liar.
The brothers wasted no time bringing up these issues. “Let’s jump on this right from the get-go,” Doug Ford said within the first two minutes of the show. “And then we’ll get onto some serious business, because that’s what the taxpayers want.”
Rob Ford then issued his challenge to the media: “Why don’t they just put their name on a ballot and let’s go toe-to-toe with them in a real election,” he said. “Why don’t you just put your money where your mouth is and let’s campaign.”
“I’ll debate any of those — but you know what, it’s a laugh”
In an open letter published on The Grid on Monday, Keenan accepted the mayor’s challenge.
“I have a great idea: let’s book a hall, and we’ll sell tickets to watch the mayor of Canada’s largest city debate against me, some lowly, weekly media columnist used to offering opinions from the gallery,” Keenan wrote. “We can donate all the proceeds to the Ford Football Foundation, which I know you’ll agree is a good cause.”
Keenan has offered the mayor the luxury of choosing the topic of debate as well, with two conditions. “We could go with anything else you may like, as long as we get to talk about the issues you yourself have defined as important — respecting taxpayers, value for tax dollars, and customer service — and we get a chance to put our opposing claims about your success or failure right beside each other.”
Fords on the Toronto media
During their show on Sunday, Doug Ford took some time to break down the media landscape in Toronto, as the Ford brothers see it.
“There’s four dailies here, folks. We’ve got the [National] Post – which we love, and they take shots at us too. The [Toronto] Sun – they take shots at us,” he said, perhaps in reference to criticism from normally-Ford-friendly columnist Sue Ann Levy last week.
The other two dailies, Doug was not so forgiving toward. “The Globe is trying to out-Star the Star,” he said, before adding his own take on the plight of the newspaper business. “Everyone knows circulation is dropping in the Star. And The Globe – they’re just trying to pick up all the crumbs from the Star.”
Doug Ford repeated claims he made last week that journalists in the city – he wasn’t entirely clear on who he was specifically talking about this time – weren’t doing their due diligence in their reporting and “sit on their ass, as I said before.”
But as David Hains said for OpenFile Toronto in his weekly recap of The City with Rob and Doug Ford, if they want to talk about the “serious business” that Doug says taxpayers want, there is a simple solution:
Stop your shenanigans and we'll all get to talk about the real stuff, like transit policies, childcare and affordable housing. When your brother has his Chicago trade mission presser derailed because of a question on whether he was driving while reading, that could be solved by not driving and reading. Controversy over leaving an executive meeting five-and-a-half hours early could be avoided by sticking around at council—then we can chat about what the day's work was about.
Last updated Sept 18 9:30 a.m.