After 2 months in rehab, Rob Ford faced the media to explain what everybody already knows – that he has substance abuse issues and has started treatment. He fell in to the trap that so many entrepreneurs fall into when talking to the media: shamelessly pitching rather than answering questions.
It was Ford’s first formal appearance since he took a leave of absence to get professional treatment. He acknowledged that he had been at a Muskoka-area facility undergoing, what he described as ‘intensive’ therapy. He says he has nobody else to blame, apologized to his family, the people of Toronto, Karen Stintz. Ford also said that he wasn’t asking for forgiveness from the media – some of whom he had not invited to the press conference – and said that some of the ‘associations’ that had been the focus of many of the media reports over the last year had ended.
Ford also talked about addiction being a disease and that everybody knows somebody who suffers. Rob wants us to believe he’s an average guy; average guys make mistakes, right? They can be forgiven, can’t they?!
And, it might have been OK had he left it there. Had he taken questions from reporters. Offered contrite, honest answers. People might have respected him for that. But he did neither. Ford, like so many entrepreneurs, just can’t resist himself. The media is like, dare I say it, a drug. Ford, never wanting to miss an opportunity to pitch his credentials turned from contrition to campaigning mode on a dime.
Having said his piece, rather than leaving the stage Ford was back to the politician we knew pre-rehab. Once again – he talked about this record – taxpayers dollars, garbage and the unions all featuring – and how he intends to serve as Mayor for ‘many more years’ to come.
Let there be no doubt Ford was using this speech to restart his reelection campaign. He just couldn’t resist it. And, as happens so many times with conversation isn’t about you, it’s about me. It’s about what I want to say; what I want you to publish; it’s about my agenda, not yours. It’s also why everything that was said before the pitch will be forgotten, questioned or disbelieved.
Sometimes dealing with the media is about knowing when to stop.
Read more about Rob Ford’s PR and Media ‘Strategies’