Rob Ford is in a mess. His credibility and trustworthiness are gone. While much has been written about Ford’s media strategy, or lack of it, the truth is that by the time Torontonians left the city for their cottages on the afternoon of May 17th for the Victoria Day long weekend, it was always going to come to this. The only person that didn’t appear to realize was the Mayor himself.
These 73 words, had Ford made a formal statement on the morning the story broke, could have saved him and the city from ridicule, embarrassment and the media throng that has engulfed him for the last six months.
“I wanted to come and talk to you about the allegations made by a number of media outlets overnight. Clearly, these are serious allegations.
In the light of the allegations I have spoken with members of my executive committee and have asked Council for permission to take a leave of absence. Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday will be deputizing in my absence.
I have no plans to make additional comment at this time.”
This short, simple, statement would done a number of things. It would have removed the Mayor from the focus of the media scrum; it would have enabled him to take proper legal counsel and prepare future statements with consideration; and it would have enabled him to avoid the perception that he was ducking the questions everybody wanted answers to.
The statement would also have allowed him time to get whatever help he may need; it would have enabled others to make prepared statements on his behalf; enabled brother Doug, or his lawyer, to sit down with editors of the city’s major media outlets to explain some of the things the Mayor has now confirmed are true; and, most importantly, it would have demonstrated that he takes both the situation and respects the position which he holds.
Ford could, despite his admission that he has smoked crack cocaine, have even used the leave for political gain. In the event that he did have a substance abuse problem, Ford could have taken time to address it away from the media spotlight and, as a result, ensure that none of his political rivals could use it against him. It’s hard to criticize somebody for acknowledging they have a problem, apologize for behaviour resulting from it, and who got the necessary treatment.
Read more about Rob Ford’s PR and Media ‘Strategies’