Of all the reams of ink and pulp and HTML that will be expended on the fate of Rob Ford, the worst include the Twitter catfight between Steve Ladurantaye, a Globe and Mail media affairs reporter, and Toronto Sun columnist Sue Anne Levy, who once considered Ford a heart-throb. Five months ago, when Gawker first broke the story of the Rob Ford crack smoking video, she did the Tammy Wynette thing by Ford, claiming that it was all a giant conspiracy by The Left Wing Media (FWIW, the closest thing I’ve seen to The Left Wing Media, apart from Briarpatch’s subscription drives, is a celebrity hockey game between some Balcarres locals and Global’s rec hockey team about 15 years ago, where Warren Woods played left wing). After yesterday’s press conference, Steve Twittered her old column, and Sue Anne threatened to sue Steve for it.
That’s right, people. Sue Anne Levy, a working journalist, is threatening to sue another journalist because he linked to an old story of hers. She’s threatening to sue him – for quoting her words.
But the worst comes from National Post columnist Robyn Urback, tut-tut-tutting the Toronto Star because their newsroom had a good day. I haven’t seen someone display their inadequacies and shortcomings since the last redneck hillbilly streaked at Mosaic Stadium during a Labour Day game a few years ago.
Back in the old days, newspapers had their biases, yes, but they had newsrooms filled with people busting their asses to get the story (think of the intense and legendary media battles between the now-defunct Toronto Telegram, The Toronto Star, and The Globe And Mail). There would have been intense competition to get this story. Instead, the Sun and the National Post, and to a lesser extent the Globe and Mail, left the field to the Rob Ford crack scandal wide open because their editors, their publishers, and their corporate owners didn’t want to know. They had built their newspapers’ view of the world around the idea that The Right Is Always Right, and since Rob Ford was right-of-centre, better him than some granola-eating hippie, Birkenstock-wearing environmentalist, supposed unreconstructed Marxist-Leninist, or some lesbian feminist who won’t shave her legs. Ford may be a little off the wall, but he’s a Man of The People … until he’s not.
What Urback is saying is this: the Toronto Star ate the National Post’s lunch. The Star is a better paper than the Post. They know more than the Post. And in the old days, this column wouldn’t have made the paper, but would have been something the author would have aurally lamented to his/her friends while drinking away the severance cheque at the press club or some tavern, hours after being frogmarched out of the newsroom.
The Toronto Star newsroom made their bones this week. They earned a credibility that much of the rest of Canada’s media refuse to even try to earn. The found a story, stuck it through to the end, and have earned every right to celebrate that they took a stand, based it on the facts – not, as the North American political right-of-centre philosophy increasingly does, wishing and hoping and making shit up – and were proven right. Good for them. And if any of them at the Star have a mousepad or coffee cup to spare, I’d gladly buy it and use it. Well done.