To be clear, I'm no Rob Ford fan. Living in Vancouver, I'm not sure exactly what that is.
The guy seems to own a galaxy of apologists who love their Mayor Joe 12-Pack, and in their eyes, he can do no wrong.
But nothing is right with this Toronto-based reality TV show that's grabbed the attention of millions of Canadians.
He did what? With who? Seriously?
In case you haven't heard, earlier this week the Toronto Star and Gawker, a gossip website, reported that Ford, mayor of Toronto since 2010, was caught on camera allegedly smoking crack cocaine with a gaggle of Somali drug dealers in Rexdale, a neighbourhood in northwest Toronto.
Media outlets across Canada and around the world reported on what the Star reported. Ford made a brief perp-walk appearance Friday at Toronto city hall, said the whole thing was "ridiculous," and disappeared to God knows where to do God knows what, leaving a slack-jawed city in the lurch. As of Tuesday, the Somalis are holding the alleged cellphone video footage hostage for a princely sum of $200,000.
Meanwhile, Robyn Doolittle, one of two Toronto Star reporters responsible for the story, has gone Hollywood, making the rounds on TV and radio.
I caught Doolittle's act Saturday on CBC. She looks Hollywood. Long dark red hair, alabaster skin, frictionless smile. She whispers for effect. She's the greatest.
Doolittle waxed poetically about "due diligence" and the "public interest." She repeated, with obvious relish, her description of the mysterious "90-second clip" and dodged questions about the Star's attempt to buy the alleged video, claiming she pressured the Somalis "to do the right thing" and give it to her free of charge.
Finally, she defended the Star's publication of a front page photo of Ford and three unknown black men who, to the best of anyone's knowledge, have nothing to do with the alleged video, drug-dealing or crack cocaine. "We were just trying to demonstrate that our source was connected to that world in some way, and that his claims that he had video of the mayor smoking crack cocaine did seem more plausible when presented with that photo," she said.
Translation: We threw a photo of the mayor with three black guys on the front page to bolster our claim that Ford is a crackhead.
Like I said, there's nothing right about this whole thing. Doolittle is not Bob Woodward. She's Harvey Levin. Congratulations.
Of course, if the mayor of anywhere smokes crack, that's a legitimate story -- especially if there's video evidence. But I can tell you from personal experience, it requires no skill or courage to answer a phone, wait in a car, view a cellphone video then blab about it. That's nothing. That's junior high school stuff. Thirteen-year-old girls perfect that sort of behaviour. Call it what you want, but don't call it good journalism.
Yet, it's the new normal. We've become a nation of informers, armed with hand-held recording devices poised to capture-and-post.
So prepare yourself for the new normal. This won't be the last high-definition "news story" about a politician, professional athlete, movie star, school teacher, church elder, bus driver, park ranger, minor hockey coach, soccer mom or grandfather caught in their worst moment. The brokenness of a few shall be the fodder for many.
As of Tuesday morning, the Gawker website has raised $80,000 towards its goal of $200,000, which it will give to the drug dealers in exchange for the alleged video of Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack.
At this point, I don't want to see it, if it exists. I've heard Doolittle's description. I know about the alleged cameramen. And I know the spirit behind its purchase.
Frankly, I'm sick of all of them. They deserve each other, and little else.