Police verification of Mayor Rob Ford 'crack cocaine' video is vindication for the Toronto Star – and for journalism, writes the newspaper's public editor Kathy English.

By Kathy English, public editor for the Toronto Star

To anyone who somehow believed the Toronto Star would ever, ever “make up” its explosive story about Mayor Rob Ford and the ‘crack cocaine’ video, I am trying to resist the urge to say ‘I told you so.’

Can’t though because indeed, I did tell you so.

I told you two of the Star’s investigative reporters had viewed the video – three times.

I told you the Star reported responsibly in the public interest on the existence of the video and its contents.

In the nearly six months since the Star first reported on the video showing Mayor Rob Ford smoking what appears to be crack cocaine and making racist and homophobic slurs, I heard from hundreds of people who questioned the truth of the story and the ethics of the Star’s reporting. So many demanded “proof,” refusing to believe without concrete evidence of that video’s existence.

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Some rejected my responses and took their complaints to the Ontario Press Council, leading to a recent hearing into the Star’s reporting on the video. Even after we were vindicated by the council ruling that the Star had “followed appropriate journalistic guidelines” the disbelievers continued, telling us the OPC’s decision did not prove the truth of the Star’s reporting.


Now of course we have verification from Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair that the video exists. This week, police recovered hard drive files that contain “video images which appear to be those images which were previously reported in the press.”

And further, said Blair, “It’s fair to say the Mayor is depicted in the video.”

To those disbelievers: Do you believe the Star now?

Not surprisingly, the Star’s newsroom was elated by this important vindication, some of us even teary-eyed. To be clear, this was not a time of gloating but rather immense, professional pride and some measure of relief that the Star is no longer alone (with Gawker editor John Cook) in defending the truth about the mayor and the “crack cocaine” video.

I expect there’s not a journalist in this news organization that has not been forced in recent months to defend the Star outside in their wider community.

To continue reading this column, please go to thestar.com where it was originally published. 

Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.