Gawker says it's seen video of Rob Ford smoking crack
One day it's fridge magnets, the next day it's, well, see for yourself. New York-based news and gossip blog Gawker says it's seen a video of Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine, and claims the tape of the alleged incident is available to the highest bidder.
In a sensational blog post, John Cook, the site's editor, claims he visited Toronto with the intention of buying the tape and was able to see a few seconds where Ford "seated, in a room in a house. In one hand is a a clear, glass pipe."
The story continues: "In the other hand is a lighter ... he is red-faced and sweaty, heaving with each breath. Finally, he finds his moment and lights up. He inhales."
The original recording, apparently taken in the last six months, is still at large - the men Cook says he met with are asking "six figures" and were offered $40,000 by a "a Canadian organization," a price they rejected.
The picture that accompanies the post shows Ford with a two people, one of whom Cook identifies as Anthony Smith, a 21-year-old college student. Smith was shot to death outside Loki Lounge on King West at the end of March.
The caveats: this is all alleged, the tape has not been made public, and the veracity of the claims has yet to be proven. Rob Ford and his office have not officially responded, though there is a message purporting to be from a lawyer, Dennis Morris, that accompanies the post calling the accusations "false and defamatory."
This one's still breaking - expect it to be huge.
Toronto Star city hall reporter Robyn Doolittle claims she has seen the video at the centre of the Gawker story, but declined to provide further details. Perhaps crucially she referred to it as "the video of Mayor Rob Ford" on Twitter. Michael Cook, the paper's editor, is promising a "huge" story in tomorrow's paper.
The Toronto Star says two of its reporters have seen the same video Gawker editor John Cook was shown. The narrative generally matches what we were told earlier: Rob Ford is allegedly seen, incoherent, warming a glass pipe with a cigarette lighter and briefly speaking to those around him. He calls the Don Bosco football team he coaches "fucking minorities," Liberal leader Justin Trudeau a "fag," then "inhales deeply."
Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington says Rob Ford's office will release a statement later this morning regarding the allegations. Earlier today Ford was spotted leaving his Etobicoke home for City Hall. Watch this space.
Rob Ford has arrived at City Hall to a throng of reporters over an hour after leaving his Etobicoke home. He said "wow, this is ridiculous" as he entered his office. Still no word on that statement or how it will be delivered.
Rob Ford left his office to make the following brief statement:
"It's like I said this morning, these allegations are ridiculous. It's another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me. And that's all, that's all I've got to say."
He's now reading the official proclamation at the PFLAG flag raising, flanked by reporters.
Satirical Taiwanese news company Next Media Animation has given the Rob Ford scandal the (completely bonkers) digital cartoon treatment. Their version of events shows the Toronto mayor falling onto school children, running over cyclists and, yes, smoking from a glass pipe. The site is famous for its off the wall videos circulated in the immediate aftermath of major news stories.
Rob Ford has left City Hall for the day. Some good news for the embattled mayor: the city has found he wasn't in breach a bylaw when he stuck magnets to parked cars during a recent Etobicoke and York Community Council meeting because "he is not in the business of being a bill distributor," reports the Globe and Mail's Sunny Dhillon.
Well, that's something I suppose.
"Have a good weekend, guys," Ford said as he left.
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.