Back in May, I surmised that the Toronto media’s long tradition of RoFo bashing (in particular, the Toronto Star) was going to cause for backlash — perhaps even causing for Ford to become embraced by a dangerous number of people/voters.
With his post-crack poll numbers continuing to climb, I’m willing to say that part of Ford’s increased popularity rating is sparked by the ever-present (and often celebratory) media and social media coverage of his latest scandals. And by social media coverage, I mean the countless tweets and Facebook comments that threaten to clog the internet.
When the Mayor of Canada’s largest city is caught doing a drug that you are only going to find by hanging out with with truly the wrong people — when he is likely behind extortion, violence, and perhaps even murder — the story needs to be told.
And because the story is so unbelievable, so juicy, and all too-often so humourous — because the Ford brand of accusation and insult tends to invite open hostility — there has been no shortage of vigour to the commentary on the behaviour of both Ford brothers.
But the vigour, the celebratory tone, and the vindictiveness of media and social media discourse has definitely rankled a certain segment of the population. As it turns out, it’s actually fired up a large segment of the Toronto electorate. It has only fed the fire of both hardcore Ford supporters and those who have an ingrained hate-on for “lefties,” “elitists,” and the “entitled.”
It’s funny (and not in a “ha ha” kind of way) that 24/7 coverage (often in a “ha ha” kind of way) of issues that should result in Ford being expelled may, in fact, lead to his re-election.
If he lives.
And doesn’t go to jail.
I’m just as guilty as anyone else. As a writer, it’s a story I can’t possibly ignore. As a social media wisenheimer, commentator, and humourist, I’ve found that the punchlines write themselves. I’ve even joined the traditional media chorus by dealing with Ford on my political segment on TV.
At the same time, I recognize that this intense coverage is dangerous. And that maybe, just maybe, we might be laughing a bit too loud.
There are a whole lot of ways that this story could end. One of the scariest is with re-election.
Of a folk hero.
Here I am, joining in on the pile-on:
Edit: In the 12 hours since I’ve written this, the Globe And Mail has come out with an article calling the Ford story “tragic.” Gazing into my crystal ball, I see a Don Cherry tirade tomorrow urging Ford to get help from “his team” and castigating the media (and perhaps Canadians in general): “For ripping into this guy… This good guy… You aughta be ashamed of yourselves. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
Sympathy may well further feed Ford’s popularity. And the source of this sympathy will likely come from the same papers, websites, television stations, and social media outlets that have carried the story this far. What remains to be seen is the impact this has on his public support. Will those outside of “Ford Nation” feel enough pity to actually want to give him a second chance. For most people, the answer will remain no. For political and moral reasons, pity will not be enough to sway them. It may, however, galvanize those who kinda, sorta, mostly back him — and who have been turned off by the scandal. And that may well add up to something tangible.
Let us not forget those who take no moral stance at all and vote primarily for personal financial reasons (tax savings/gravy). Let us also not forget the suburban impact of liberal vote-splitting and Conservative popularity.
It will definitely be an interesting few days (and months). Which, again, makes the story so fascinating to watch.
And so the circle continues.