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Matt Lauer, right, speaking with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford as the mayor’s brother, city councillor Doug Ford, looks on during an interview in Toronto for the Today show. (AP)
Matt Lauer, right, speaking with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford as the mayor’s brother, city councillor Doug Ford, looks on during an interview in Toronto for the Today show. (AP)

Matt Lauer pushes Rob Ford on alleged drug use in Today interview Add to ...

The controversy surrounding Toronto Mayor Rob Ford isn’t only supplying comedy material for Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel and prime-time newscasts. Now he’s showing up on American morning television programs.

On Tuesday morning, it was Matt Lauer’s turn to grill Ford on the NBC show Today, and he hit the ground running. “You have disgraced this office and you know that’s true,” he said to Ford.

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To which a toned-down Ford conceded that his behaviour of late was inexcusable.

“We’ve all made mistakes, Matt,” Ford said. “I’m not perfect. Maybe you are, maybe other people are. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve admitted to my mistakes.”

You can watch the Today interview here.

When Lauer pressed the mayor on his admission that he has used drugs, Ford repeated his explanation that he was “very, very inebriated” when he smoked crack.

“I embarrassed not just myself, my family, my friends, my supporters, the whole city,” said a seemingly contrite Ford. “I take full responsibility for that.”

Moving on, Lauer asked Ford if it was “supposed to make anyone feel better” that Ford claimed he was drunk when he smoked crack.

The mayor’s response: “No, not at all, but show me the video,” he said, referring to the now-infamous video in which Ford allegedly smokes crack while in the company of two Toronto gang members.

Countered Lauer: Why did the video matter? “Because I want to see it. I can’t even barely remember it,” Ford said.

Getting straight to the point, Lauer asked Ford if he was a drug addict.

“I’m not [addicted to crack cocaine] and they said, ‘Do you use crack cocaine?’ No, I don’t use crack cocaine. No. Have I tried crack cocaine? Yes, I’ve tried crack.”

As in previous TV interviews and press conferences, Ford claimed he has sought out medical help but had not yet received treatment for alcohol or drug addictions. He told Lauer that he was working out “every day” in his bid to lose weight.

Taking the interview into a different direction, Lauer asked Ford what would happen if “something terrible happened to the city of Toronto,” like a terrorist attack, while the mayor was binge-drinking.

Ford paused briefly, then replied, “I’m very fortunate that hasn’t happened. It’s very few isolated incidents that it’s happened. And you’re absolutely right I’m very fortunate that hasn’t happened.”

Ford went on: “But that could happen with anybody at any time,” offered Ford. “Say you were gone out drinking or you were drunk, say something happened to your family. Say your son or daughter just got killed in a car accident and you’re plastered out of your mind at three in the morning. Are you going to be able to handle that?”

Doug Ford, Rob’s brother and a Toronto city councillor, sat silently throughout the interview, except when Lauer asked him whether he was concerned for his younger brother.

“Yeah, his weight issues,” Doug Ford said. “When he goes on a binge, if you want to call it binge drinking, yeah, it’s concerning. Do I know on a personal side has Rob been 100 per cent honest? No, he hasn’t.”

As the interview wound down, Ford repeated his now-standard line that the people will determine his fate at the next mayoral election in October, 2014. Lauer asked him what might happen if Toronto voters decide they “want a guy who’s going to elevate the office and not bring the baggage that Rob Ford has brought?”

He replied: “They’re not going to find another Rob Ford.”

 

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