“My understanding,” he wrote, “is that one of the most fundamental rules of good journalism is to always — always — obtain a corroborating source for any material allegation before a story is published.
“Furthermore, when someone’s personal reputation is at stake, simple human decency if not journalistic professionalism, ought to dictate particular care in sourcing any allegations, since informants may have many and diverse motives other than a pristine dedication to the truth for feeding a juicy story to a journalist.
“The Star has very conspicuously run, without any form of corroboration, a story it obtained from a couple of professional criminals, and unless I am missing something, I find it appalling that such a practice can be passed off as good journalism.”
Mr. Bogue is correct about much and maybe all of that, I think.
Traditional practice is that reporters do seek corroborating sources (the corroboration here, I suppose, came from the reputable reporters who watched the video, three times, from the back seat of a parked car) and certainly in years past, Canadian newspapers are unlikely to have gone to town on the say-so of people as dubious as drug dealers.
As Mr. Bogue points out, these folks “have an obvious motive for concocting a real whopper, to wit: The market value of a video that purportedly shows Rob Ford smoking crack will be considerably higher than that of a video showing him smoking some less noxious substance; and the market value of a video determined to be fraudulent will be zero…
“The Star is acting a bit like the person who buys ‘an authentic Rolex’ from some guy who sells it out of the trunk of his car for $500.
“ ‘Nice chap; didn’t quite catch his name, but he assured me himself that the watch is authentic.’ ”
It’s inarguable, I think, that with this story, the goalposts of the newspaper business in this country have been moved. They won’t be moved backwards.
This is one reason why I maintain skepticism of this video.
First: It's pretty outlandish. Like I said, if I were on drugs and held public office, I wouldn't want anyone filming me and I would threaten anyone doing so.
Second: Consider the source. I suspect there's no love lost between drug dealers and the mayor.
Third: Consider the motives of those publishing it. They are motivated to believe this is true, without proper verification, to remove a political figure they really dislike.
It doesn't mean the video isn't true. I will not judge until all the evidence is in, if we ever see it.
But if the evidence doesn't come in, I will say like atheists: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
And now the story has expanded to include Doug Ford, who is alleged to have dealt hash to street dealers in the 1980s.
To his political credit, Doug addressed the allegations head on:
“I have never been involved in the drug trade,” Ford told Global News. “Have I smoked marijuana in high school? Absolutely, I did, like everyone else.”
“I don’t do drugs; I don’t like drugs” he said. “Very simple. I hate anyone that is involved in the drug business.”
I note how they can't get ANYONE to come on the record to say that Doug Ford dealt drugs.
And he was never busted. How convenient. He only dealt with street dealers not consumers. So a smaller pool of witnesses-- another convenient fact. And all these sources are involved in drugs. A community who would not be averse to seeing a tough-on-crime mayor resign.
And by the way, this was all when he was a young adult. Thirty years ago. Because people never change or anything.
This is National Enquirer type journalism.
“Do I want to sue them? Absolutely, I want to sue them,” he said a moment later.
Perhaps we could crowdsource a lawsuit.