Henry Grabar is a staff writer for Slate’s Moneybox and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.
Not quite the same thing as "I've never smoked crack," is it?
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on Friday finally addressed the allegations, circulating since last week, that he was filmed smoking crack cocaine.
"There has been a serious accusation," the mayor said at an afternoon press conference from Toronto's city hall, reading from a prepared statement. "I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine."
It was unclear whether the use of the present tense was intended to hint at past usage of the drug, or leaves the door open for a future admission. "As for a video," Ford said, "I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or that does not exist."
The mayor did not take questions. His brother Doug Ford, a Toronto city councilor, did field a few questions, but did not elaborate on the mayor's remarks. He called Gawker, one of two news outlets to report having seen the alleged video and which has since been engaged in a Kickstarter campaign to raise $200,000 to purchase it, "digusting."
Ford and his administration had succeeded in stonewalling the media's requests for comment for most of the week. Since news of the video emerged late in the evening of Thursday, May 16, the mayor had hardly said a word, despite reporters stalking his every public move.
But yesterday, the wall began to crumble. The mayor's chief of staff, Mark Tohwey, was fired, reportedly for advising Ford to "go away and get help," a report that neither Mayor Ford nor his brother addressed. On Friday, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, a Ford ally, said he and other members of Ford's hand-picked executive committee were drafting a letter urging the mayor to address the crack allegations.
Mayor Ford said on Friday that his silence was based on legal advice from his lawyer.
Top image: Rob Ford arrives at Toronto City Hall on Friday, May 24, 2013. Mark Blinch/Reuters.