Rob Ford's post-rehab, not-so-magical media tour has gone poof before it really got started.
Rofo has cancelled scheduled interviews with a number of outlets, after two quickies with CBC and CP24 earlier this week. The mayor will not be doing anymore one-on-ones with local news orgs, official word is, because he wants to concentrate his energies on the mayoral race.
As always with Ford the truth is more complicated. Word on the street is that it's the tongue-lashing Ford got on Canada Day courtesy of the so-called "shirtless jogger," aka high school teacher Joe Killoran, that's really behind his pulling the plug on more interviews. Say what?
The mayor's big brother Doug, who doubles as Ford's alter ego as well as campaign manager, is blaming the media for that. In the Fords' twisted world it was all a set-up. Where the Fords and media are concerned, it's war - again - full-on "jihad."
Inevitable, really. The Ford's need someone, something, anything but themselves to blame and take the focus off the fact Rob still hasn't answered questions about those racial slurs before he left the city to dry out in cottage country. The media is - always have been - a convenient target for the Fords. The invite-only presser to mark the mayor's return was only the beginning of the hostilities.
Already at City Hall there are the outward signs of a bunker mentality taking hold: roped-off areas to keep the press from the mayor and security escorts for Ford in and out of meetings through back doors so he won't have to face questions.
The ones he has bothered to answer in interviews with CBC and CP24 have only raised more questions about Ford's supposed rehabilitation:
Has the mayor chased the dragon? Ford has gone from denying he's a drug addict to admitting in his interviews with CBC and CP24 that his substance abuse problems go back more than a decade to his days as a councillor. And then there's the heroin thing. Ford didn't specifically drop the "H" bomb in his interview with CBC's Dwight Drummond, but he didn't deny using it either when Drummond started rhyming off drugs the mayor's used. Ford said in that sitdown that his drug use has run "the full gamut. You name it, I pretty well covered it." He reiterated as much during the CP24 interview saying he used "every drug you can think of." But then he flatly denied using heroin when Stephanie Smyth asked him specifically. It was an awkward moment made more unbelievable by the well-known fact the mayor's sister, the one he's been known to smoke crack with, is a heroin addict. The mayor wants to squeeze as much sympathy as he can from his drug abuse narrative. But heroin comes with a special societal stigma attached, one the mayor knows is not as easily forgiveable for voters. And so the conflicting messages from one interview to the next.
Is Ford on medication to help him deal with his substance abuse problems? Ford was unusually withdrawn in both the CBC and CP24 interviews. He managed a wisp of a smile in the CP24 sit down, but remained mostly stone-faced throughout both interviews. Smyth asked him if he was on prescription medication. Ford offered a terse ‘no.' But it was a reflexive response of the kind someone caught off guard would give.
Has the mayor's wife Renata finally had enough? There's more trouble than people may know on the home front. The mayor noticeably got his back up when he was asked during the CP24 interview about his relationship with his family. He offered two words: "Just fine." He hasn't mentioned his wife or kids by name since his return Monday, referring generically to the support of his "family." Renata and the kids were noticeably absent from Monday's presser to mark the mayor's official return from rehab. While Ford's wife and kids have never played a major role in his public life, the mayor hasn't been shy in the past about using them whenever his image has needed burnishing. Ford has alluded to "losing" his wife and kids in a number of his drunken stupors caught on tape.
Is Rob Ford still in denial? Often during his CBC interview, Ford referred to his addictions to drugs and alcohol in the past tense. He persisted in the it's-all-behind-me vein, even when he appeared to catch himself doing it. Deep down inside (if there is such a thing with Ford), he's at war with himself. Ford also said he has never done drugs in his City Hall office, despite some evidence to the contrary including: a statement given by a former staffer to police about finding a half-smoked joint in the mayor's desk at City Hall; several journalists reporting the smell of burning rubber emanating from his City Hall office after his late-night drunken stupor at the ACC in April; and the copious video of the mayor on City Hall security cameras emerging from his office fall-down inebriated at all hours.
How long is he going to play the "I'm sick" card, forever? The mayor has talked about taking responsibility for his actions. But he's also referred to his alcohol and drug abuse as a disease so often that it's beginning to sound like an excuse. He has said that he "wouldn't wish this disease on my worst enemy." CP24's Smyth asked: "Does the disease give you a gimme?" Ford didn't answer the question directly. "The disease gives you uncontrollable cravings that no one would understand unless they have the disease." He also said in the CP24 interview that there wasn't one moment that made it clear to him he needed help, which is different than what he said in the Drummond interview. There, the mayor suggested it was the still from a video published in the Globe of him holding a crack pipe that was the turning point. For Ford, this whole rehab thing is looking more like a make-no-promises situation.