The editor of a U.S. website says he is willing to wait a month for the owners of a video allegedly showing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine to come out of hiding and collect $200,000 for the footage.
In the meantime, John Cook said the money – which was donated by more than 8,000 people – will sit in a Gawker bank account.
“I’d say give them a month,” said Mr. Cook, who is editor of Gawker.com. “If I hear nothing but silence, then I can only conclude that for whatever reasons, the people who have it are no longer motivated to sell it even though we’ve got a huge amount of money that we’ve raised and that was what they asked for.”
If the deal fails, Gawker has said it will donate the $200,000 to a Canadian non-profit organization focused on substance abuse.
Mr. Cook said his last contact with the people who are in possession of the alleged video was on May 19. He said he believes they have gone to ground because they’re afraid, especially given the spate of media coverage.
“I know that obviously it’s got to be a very intense time for them. I’m sure they’re frightened,” he said.
Mr. Cook said he doesn’t know whether the video’s owners know that Gawker’s so-called Crackstarter 11-day fundraising campaign reached its $200,000 goal a few hours ahead of Monday night’s deadline.
The Globe and Mail has not been able to verify the existence of the alleged video or its contents. Mr. Ford has said that he does not use crack cocaine and denies that such a video exists.
If the deal with the video’s owners fails, Mr. Cook said he hasn’t yet considered which substance abuse organization should receive the money.
However, at least one such organization contacted by The Globe said it would not likely accept such a donation and others said their boards of directors would have to debate the issue.
“If they don’t want the money, then they don’t have to take the money,” Mr. Cook said. “We’ll find someone who does.”