Toronto Mayor Rob Ford described his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live as a success Tuesday morning, telling reporters “I held my own” – despite the ribbing the late-night host gave him over his drug and alcohol scandal.
Mayor Ford made his first-ever appearance on the late-night show Monday evening, after a year of being the regular subject of Mr. Kimmel’s ridicule. The comedian continued to poke fun at Mr. Ford in person, asking him to explain a number of controversial videos that show him intoxicated and rambling, and closing the interview with an urge for the mayor to consider quitting alcohol.
“If you are an alcoholic,” Mr. Kimmel said, “if you’re doing crack in your 40s and you can’t remember … [That’s] something to think about. It’s nothing to be ashamed about.” In response to that, the mayor looked uncomfortable, laughing off the question and saying “I wasn’t elected to be perfect, Jimmy.”
But the next morning after returning from Los Angeles, Mr. Ford told reporters he thought he’d done a good job of promoting Toronto. “Was it a tough interview? Sure it was, but he has a job to do. That’s his job,” Mr. Ford said of Mr. Kimmel. “I knew that I was going into a lion’s den, and I held my own.”
In response to Mr. Kimmel’s plea to quit drinking, Mr. Ford told Toronto reporters “I don’t have any personal issues. We’ve gone down that road a number of times.”
He added that, compared with Toronto’s media, the interview was “a walk in the park.”
Councillor Doug Ford – who is running his brother’s re-election campaign – called the weekend in Los Angeles “a real positive, positive trip.”
“A lot of that was scripted,” Councillor Ford said of the comedian’s roast. He said the mayor knew the night before what he would be getting into.
He said his only regret was that the mayor didn’t have a chance on the show to spend more time promoting Toronto. “When you’re in the studio, it was new to us … we thought we were going to get at least another minute to pump the city,” he said.
Councillor Ford maintained, as he has over the past few days, that the trip was intended to promote Toronto’s tourism and film industries. “He went to an event [a post-Oscars party] that had over 1,000 people. We were working the room like no one’s ever worked a room. We brought hundreds of business cards. I have none left,” he said.
And the group – which included the mayor, his two brothers and several staffers – also fit in an unannounced visit to L.A’s City Hall, where they talked to several of the city’s councillors. Mayor Eric Garcetti was out of town.
On the show, Mr. Ford wore a black suit and black shirt – with a bright Rudolph-red tie, prompting Mr. Kimmel’s first question: “Why are you dressed like a magician?”
Even the late-night host seemed bewildered that the mayor had agreed to appear. “Why are you here?” he asked. “What good can come from this?”
Back in Toronto, councillors reacted with the same bewilderment.
Councillor Shelley Carroll said the mayor had a hard time answering for his behaviour during the interview. He has become the joke, she said, and that fact will reflect back on the city if it re-elects him this fall.
“We as a city really need to give our heads a shake and ask ourselves, ‘Come October [if we elect him], this becomes a joke on us internationally speaking,’ ” she said.
Across North America, there is a new scale for drunkenness: “zero to Rob Ford,” she said.
Councillor Jaye Robinson, who was kicked off the mayor’s executive committee for calling for him to take a leave last June, said the positive spin being put on the appearance by the mayor and his brother is just their typical bluster.
“I think he is just trying to make good of a bad situation because clearly the mayor was humiliated. Toronto was humiliated. He was mocked,” she said.
Ms. Robinson described the late night spot as “a highlights reel of everything that has gone wrong” in the mayor’s personal life “They shone a spotlight on all his personal issues over the past year or more. It’s really unfortunate for the mayor and it’s unfortunate for the City of Toronto. “
With reports from Shinan Govani