The judicial ruling that put Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on political life support has raised eyebrows well outside the country’s borders, with many newspapers using it as an opportunity to rake through his gaffe-prone political career.
Who played it serious:
Two of the world’s most respected media organizations carried the story, both of them playing it straight. In the BBC telling of the story, the only hint of Mr. Ford’s colourful track record lay in a related link on the site headlined “Toronto mayor’s ‘war on bikes’.” The New York Times ran a dispassionate short piece in print and on-line, calling the judge’s ruling removing Mr. Ford from office an “unusual order.”
Who believed the spin:
Other news organizations struggled to understand the case, some apparently believing the spin that Mr. Ford was being persecuted for helping disadvantaged youth. According to Britain’s Daily Mail, the judge found that Mr. Ford used city stationery improperly, a conclusion established much earlier by Toronto’s integrity commissioner, and that he was being turfed for conflict of interest as a councillor. Later in the same story, though, they got it right: he was guilty of conflict for his actions while mayor, for voting on a motion that had a financial impact on him.
Who had fun:
Most foreign media mined the mayor’s rocky tenure for its comedic value. The Atlantic Cities ran a grossly unflattering picture of Mr. Ford, whom it described as “the football-coaching, budget-tightening, bike-lane-removing, casino-desiring mayor of Toronto.” The Hollywood Reporter recalled the “don’t hit babies” advice Mr. Ford gave celebrities Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, who were in town promoting their political comedy The Campaign, and reminded readers that Keith Olbermann had once dubbed Mr. Ford “the worst person in the world.”
Who went personal:
Forbes took a more nuanced approach, citing Mr. Ford’s controversies but noting also that some of Toronto’s problems stem from city growth that preceded him. The reporter acknowledged that the scandal might be hard for her readers to grasp. “The whole thing might seem a little crazy, given that so little money is involved, but it’s right in line with Ford’s larger than life persona,” she wrote. “I met him at a Bruce Springsteen concert this summer, and you couldn’t miss him, clad in a suit when the rest of us were in jeans, shaking hands along the Rogers Centre floor while Springsteen was singing onstage.”