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editorial

The release of the long-awaited videos showing the late mayor of Toronto Rob Ford smoking crack may seem, in a way, like ancient history. The videos showing Mr. Ford are pathetic, and carry less shock value than they would have, had the evidence been released when the first headlines appeared in the spring of 2013. Yet no matter how inured we became to the spectacle that was the Ford mayoralty, it is worth reflecting on one lesson learned from the tale of these tapes.

Amid the late-night comedy show appearances by Mr. Ford, and his wild mood swings in front of microphones, it is worth remembering the role that journalism played in this story. It took tenacity to discover the truth about Rob Ford.

When news first broke in Gawker and the Toronto Star that a video existed, many Ford supporters simply refused to believe it, claiming instead it was an invention of the media. The reporting and the credentials of the journalists involved were questioned. Reporters were threatened. The release Thursday of those videos puts the lie to all those who made the false claim that simply because the media did not possess the videos, the videos therefore did not exist.

Despite the questions about the media's motives, the body of investigative work into the Ford family grew over time. The Globe and Mail spent months investigating and ultimately exposing how some members of the Ford family had a history of dealing in drugs. The Ford band kept on playing their divisive tune, pedalling what they saw as a put-up or shut-up simplicity that belied the difficulty of acquiring a video that was in the hands of criminals.

The truth for all to see only came in the spring of 2014, when The Globe paid for photographic evidence that proved the mayor was a drug-taker. He went into rehab minutes after the story was published.

While trust is something that journalists and media organizations can earn only through good behaviour, the rabid denouncing of reporters, especially on social media, has become something of a vicious game for the anonymous. Proof that the Ford tapes exist hopefully represents the final bookend on what was an embarrassing and shameful mayoralty, and provides ample evidence that investigative journalism matters.