An editor in the Toronto Sun newsroom received a call from someone shopping around the video that is alleged to show mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine before Gawker and the Star broke the story almost two weeks ago, but the offer was short on specifics and did not mention drug use, according to the paper's editor, so it was dismissed.
"The question that was put, was – would we be willing to pay for a Rob Ford story, there was some video that they had," James Wallace said in an interview on Tuesday afternoon. "My understanding is there was no mention of crack, no mention of the mayor smoking. It was a generic inquiry whether we paid for stories, and that there was a video that would be embarrassing to the mayor."
Noting that would not be unusual – he cited the video showing the mayor emerging from a KFC outlet during a public weight-loss campaign – Mr. Wallace said the editor likely dismissed the potential news value of the offer.
If there had been more details, "we would have absolutely tried to take a look at it, tried to get a hold of it," said Mr. Wallace, who explained that he learned about the call in the last couple of days. "The editor didn't talk with me, and I'm pretty sure was under the impression that it was a crank call," he said. "Do I feel a little bit stupid about that now? Yes, because, had I known, I would have had someone follow up."
The news that the Sun, one of the mayor's staunchest allies in the press, had been offered the video comes as both Rob Ford and his brother Doug Ford dismiss the scandal as the work of "one news organization" – the Toronto Star, which has a notoriously toxic relationship with the Fords. In the past week, Sun editors and columnists have repeatedly chastised the mayor for his clumsy handling of the allegations.
Mr. Wallace said no one on his staff has seen the video, but they are actively working to track it down. "The allegations will at some point be either proven wholly or in part," he said. "There's a lot of media working on the story now, it's gone too far down the road now. At some point the facts of the matter will come out." He added: "If we had the video, if we determined the video was legitimate, we would post it in a New York minute."