Toronto: The Rob Ford issue and why we have yet to reach media fatigue

As a writer and general follower of news and politics, I have naturally been interested in following the Rob Ford scandal. We are in day 20 of this 50-car wreck of a story and it seems that every time we may be reaching a point of media fatigue, Ford does something else that is the metaphorical equivalent of 10 more cars slamming into the back of this mess.

First, I will explain what I mean by media fatigue; I have borrowed the term from where I first heard it, Drew Curtis’s book, It’s not news, it’s Fark (www.fark.com). The main concept of media fatigue is that when reporting on a large news item, the media has a tendency to take things too far and generally run the story into the ground, so much so that they start reporting on whether they have been reporting on this subject for too long. It’s very common in the media world but I don’t believe it has been happening in this case.

Usually by day 20 of any story, there is nothing new to report. Journalists start regurgitating information, creating sidebars and generally doing anything that could sell more papers. With a large scandal like this one, it’s not uncommon for stories to outrun their course because, hey, who doesn’t like a good scandal? The big difference here is that, unlike most other people who would have crawled into a hole somewhere to let this blow over, Ford has not only stayed in the public eye but has been followed by a continuous stream of incriminating evidence and buffoonish comments, giving the media more to write about without exhausting the well.

Here is an abridged timeline of the scandal starting Oct. 31, 2013 (information from http://www.thestar.com):

  • Toronto police have the “crack tape” in their possession. (Oct. 31)
  • Rob and Doug Ford radio show: apologies for drunkenness, but refuses to step down or take a leave of absence. (Nov. 3)
  • Ford admits to crack cocaine use and apologizes, but again refuses to step down; blames the media for why he didn’t admit it in May (stating that they did not ask the right questions). Ford also states that he smoked the crack in one of his “drunken stupors.” (Nov. 5)
  • Ford video rant hits the internet. (Nov. 7)
  • Ford admits to buying drugs in front of council (Nov. 13)
  • More allegations of Ford’s drunken behaviour surfaces (Nov. 13)
  • Ford makes sexually inappropriate comments in front of media about sexual harassment allegations. (Nov. 14)

For media fatigue to truly set in, there has to be no development in the story for an extended period of time. Ford has managed to beat fatigue by continually doing things that no public figure should. Also, the ford story has seen a true (journalistic) cornucopia of allegations, videos and other incriminating situations come to light. In all seriousness, the media just has to sit and wait for a couple days and boom, another comment. Another flub. Another mistake. This man cannot keep his nose out of trouble.

I am tired of hearing about Ford in many ways; the entire world now understands he is a fool and Toronto is no longer getting invited to parties, but everything that has happened up to this point has managed to stop the story from getting tired.

I am interested, however, in what will happen over the coming weeks regarding the scandal. He has been stripped of much power and left like a clown that no one wants to hire. The world has pointed and laughed. The “Rob Ford should step down” angle has been taken time and again (Even MP Jason Kenney seems to be getting on the bandwagon now). This is the point that will determine whether the media will let sleeping dogs lie or whether they will beat this poor sucker into the ground. I am leaning toward the latter. Why? Remember when Cheney shot his buddy in the face (Again, thank you Drew Curtis of Fark for the example)? It was such an outlandish accident that it took on a mind of its own after initial reports. Ford has made buffoonish remarks mixed with social faux pas and a smattering of illicit substance use. Better yet, he spread it out over almost 20 days; this story may never see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I hope to see the media leave this alone… but I doubt that will happen.

AI

  • Shortly before he was stripped of many of his mayoral duties, he likened this situation to a coup d’état, suggesting that this was like when the US attacked Kuwait and threatened to make the next election a bloodbath (Nov 18)

http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2013/11/19/rob_ford_97_allegations_against_the_mayor.html

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/Toronto/ID/2419135766/

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COLUMN – WLU Symphony

Wilfrid Laurier University Symphony Orchestra had their Holiday concert on Nov. 27, and it was a night for soloists, Afendi Yusuf, clarinet, Sarah Gates, Saxophone and Sarah Whynot, piano were all on stage strutting their musical chops for the audience. These three musicians were the winners of Laurier’s 2010 Faculty of Music concerto competition. The concerto competition is a yearly contest held by the faculty to let its best and brightest compete to gain a solo in the next year’s musical program.

Yusuf led the way playing a movement from Copland’s Concerto for Clarinet (1948). The piece was played largely in the clarinet’s upper register, and the articulation made the piece come across very crisp and clean, especially the faster runs.

The cadenza in the middle of the piece was executed, at times, with professional flare, but other, more challenging areas in the cadenza were played without conviction, leading to a weakening of the section.

Next, Gates played a jazzy concertino by French composer Jeanine Rueff. Gates executed the piece beautifully, playing the runs expertly as well as performing the slower, more flowing parts with ease. Her main drawback was the visual aspect of the piece. She flapped her arms while playing, lending a distracting edge and detracting from the enjoyment of the music.

Whynot played the allegro movement of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16. A virtuoso performance, she played as well as any professional I had seen perform the same piece.

The main issue with the performance was tuning. Throughout the entire performance, there were major tuning problems in the violin section.  They played with a great amount of cohesion, unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for their sound. I found myself sitting grinding my teeth on held notes, wondering if the section could not hear the same problems that the audience could. The tuning issues were prevalent even through the solo performances, taking away from the great performances that were taking place at the front of the stage.

If this were a professional symphony, I would call the lack of tuning inexcusable. Even as a student symphony, they are in a music program, and should be able to do something as basic as tune.

Aside from the tuning issues, the performances were quite nice. For the $10 you spend to watch, it is worth supporting Laurier music and going to the performances, but don’t’ expect everything to be perfect. For a $10 symphony concert, you definitely get exactly what you pay for.

The WLU symphony’s next performances will be the Laurier production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute on March 4, 5 and 6, 2011.

AI

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$500,000 to save one life

Let me elaborate:

There is a young man, Lucas Maciesza, who is suffering from a rare blood disorder where his red blood cells are being destroyed. Less than 10 people in Ontario have this disorder, and there is only one treatment for it.

That treatment costs $500,000 per year, and once the treatment is started, it cannot be stopped.

Maciesza received his first bout of the treatment, but now his family is not sure how they will continue paying for it.

Did I mention that it’s not covered by OHIP?

This life-saving treatment that would financially destroy an average family is left to the sufferers to pick up the tab, and yet, it’s the only way to keep their loved ones alive. Most people would take financial ruin for that cause.

There is one other person getting the treatment in Ontario, in North Bay. She is receiving the treatment on compassionate grounds. She started the treatment, and the North Bay hospital picked up the cost of the treatment. The Maciesza family, who received the first two treatments that Lucas was administered on London Health Sciences Centre  hospital’s  bill, are now reaching out to people across Canada to show an act of compassion toward Lucas and help them continue the treatment.

I think that Lucas should be covered by OHIP. We are told that we pay our taxes into this program s that we can get the treatment we need when we need it. They’ve lied to Lucas. He can’t have his treatment, and this is something that he needs so that he can continue living. It may be $500,000 per year from the government’s coffers, but i would rather see it go toward that than giving our politicians a raise any day.

This family is in an impossible situation. If they do save their son, they bnakrupt themselves with a couple treatments. If they don’t, it’s a death sentence for Lucas. How do you make someone choose between those things?

Lucas deserves this treatment, plain and simple, and I hope, for him and his family’s sake, that he gets it.

AI

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HUMOUR COLUMN – Cats

I’m sitting at my computer, praying for inspiration to come to me, when I hear scuffling, and notice a little white paw curling up under my door.

One of the cats is trying to get into my room.

Generally, the cats don’t come into my living area. It’s not that I have an aversion to cats, per se, it’s more that I don’t like that they do to my clothing/shoes/electronics/papers/instruments/anything else they can knock over or otherwise destroy. It’s a matter of economics, really. A lack of property damage trumps love.

I live with two cats right now, Koda and Morely. As lovely as these animals are, they are eccentric little buggers. These cats have decided to destroy this house, and be warned, they take no prisoners.

First, it starts with the “playing.” At all hours of the day and night, it sounds like a herd of stampeding elephants has been let loose in the house. For animals that are supposed to be light on their feet, and weigh less than 20 pounds combined, I still haven’t figured out how they manage to make such a ruckus. I swear they’re wearing my Doc Martens when I’m not looking.

Next, we have the two little monsters launching themselves at closed doors. Though wily, they have yet to figure out the round handle. It’s the only thing keeping them out at this point. They go down to the end of the hall, then, with their little elephant footsteps, take a flying run at my threshold, launch, and bound against my door. It’s more than a little unnerving when you’re not expecting it.

Especially at 3 a.m.

Although a little ashamed to say that I have been bested in this arena by a house pet, I will say that those cats have nearly had me hanging from the ceiling with their antics.

And, of course, when they do manage to get past my shoddy defences, there’s the thievery. Yes, thievery. Anything small enough to fit in their furry little mouths gets snatched. Koda is the worst for it, but Morely’s learning fast. Just earlier I found him trotting around the house with three pieces of Kleenex trailing behind him.

They also have a fixation with ear plugs. I guess the wax tastes good. Every time that I catch one of the two of them in my room, they’re after an earplug left on my side table. They stare at you innocently as they sneak closer, closer… and then nip the bit of foam and run away with it in their happy little mouths. I question their taste in goods to steal, but find it inconvenient, nonetheless.

So, looking at that tiny paw coming under the door, I remember why I’m not opening it; it’s the last portal to the great untouched, pet-free world.

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Remembrance Day disgust.

This isn’t a story from the news, but i feel that it is important to bring it to light on this blog. It loosely has to do with rights, but it mostly has to do with outright ignorance and rudeness.

If you haven’t guessed by this point, my problem is with something that happened during the Remembrance Day service at Conestoga College.

The service itself was well put together, and was very good for paying tribute to those that have fought and those that have fallen. At 11 a.m., there was a call over the P.A. at the school for everyone to stop for two minutes of silence.

The school got very quiet.

All except Tim Horton’s.

The Timmies above the atrium, where the actual ceremony was taking place, not only continued serving through the anouncement and the two minutes of silence, but continued yelling orders.

The disrespect that these people showed not only for the people observing the moment of silence, but for the people that fought in armed conflicts. Those people have earned that moment of contemplation.

Anyone who wants to have a moment of silence deserves to have that moment of silence uninterrupted, and the people that don’t want to contemplate should respect those that feel it is important.

The Conestoga College Tim Hortons deserves a big raspberry (and not the kind that’s found in their doughnuts) for not observing the moment of silence. People are doing something that is important to them, and they shouldn’t have that marred by a group that doesn’t know how to show respect.

AI

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Omar Khadr’s extradition

On Oct. 25, 2010, Omar Khadr pleaded guilty to throwing the grenade that killed an American soldier eight years ago. His goal was actually to “Kill many Americans” with his act of terrorism. He has spent his incarceration becoming more and more fanatical about his religion and his anti-American beliefs.

He has also become an icon to Canadians of the injustice of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Americans refused to extradite him back to Canada, after repeated requests by the government. We wanted to get him out of the prison camp and back on Canadian soil.

Khadr doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment.

Canada will be getting Khadr back on our soil after he has served one more year that Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

In my humble opinion, Khadr should be held at Guantanamo Bay until he has finished his sentence, as he is a war criminal as well as a terrorist, and through his actions as a jihadist, I feel that he has forfeited his right to Canadian incarceration, and should have to serve his sentence where he was tried.

the second Khadr threw that grenade, he gave up his right to any Canadian civility. He is a murderer, a jihadist, and a terrorist, three things that this country, as well as the United States, are very against. He made a decision, and even though he was a child soldier, and does deserve some concessions due to potential brainwashing and the impressionable nature of a child, he should be punished to the full extent of the law of the land that he attacked. He also doesn’t deserve the pity of a country that he hates by proxy, assuming that he is part of a jihad against the West.

When he reaches Canada, there is a good chance he will be released due to time served.

Omar Khadr should be rehabilitated, and if he gets to Canada, my fear is that he will be released for time served. Once released, if not rehabilitated, the process can and potentially will repeat. That is not what we need here, or anywhere.

AI

AMENDMENT: News has come forward that there is no set deal for Khadr’s extradition. http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/10/28/khadr-cannon-canada.html

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COLUMN- The colonel’s clothes

A man in a pink bikini graced the front of the newspaper Tuesday morning. His steely gaze almost penetrates through the picture and into your own heart. The swimsuit is one taken from the scene of the countless crimes he committed.

Col. Russell Williams showed up on the front of The Waterloo Region Record, as well as in the pages of countless other newspapers, all detailing the sordid goings-on that lead to the deaths of two women: Cpl. Marie France Comeau and Jessica Lloyd.

He also showed up in bikinis and ladies’ panties.

Col. Williams just pleaded guilty to 88 charges, including two counts of first-degree murder, and has been depicted as an inhuman monster in the media. To add to all of this injury, an additional insult has been added; in conjunction with hearing about the depravity of his actions, we also have to see it. Showing Col. Williams in his prizes only further sensationalizes the situation at hand. It also leads toward the goal of dehumanizing Williams, making him out to be more than just a social pariah, but also into an “other” that we can despise and fear.

Do we need to see the eerie sight of Col. Williams in his ill-gotten booty, posing for the camera? Do we need to further estrange this man from normalcy when he has already pole-vaulted himself onto the fringe of society?

The graphic nature of these photos makes them inappropriate for newspapers, and turns these serious proceedings into a theatre of the absurd. I believe that, if the pictures are graphic but lead to an understanding of the case, they should be included, within reason. The pictures of piles of bras and panties illustrate the sheer volume of raids and other crimes that Williams committed, and I do believe that it is important to know what he did with the pieces of clothing that he stole from his victims, but we did not need to see it. The pictures were disturbing, and, in the case of The Record, only placed to sell more papers.

The sternness of Col. Williams is sensationalized by the absurdity of how he is dressed. While it may sell papers to have these pictures on the front page, it also trivializes the trial. In some ways, it makes people laugh how foolish Williams looks. In others, it makes us look at a man who has done horrendous things as a circus sideshow.

These pictures also help to dehumanize the man. We work to “other” him to make us feel like we couldn’t be like him. It is a common thing to make monsters out of those people that have questionable moral standards, and the pictures of him in his victims’ undergarments provide that otherness that we look for.  The man has stolen from, raped and killed women. It doesn’t matter what he did afterward, only that he did it, and we, the public, definitely do not need to see it. He is an ill man. A sociopath. He is going to be locked away for the bad things he has done, and will probably never again be a free man. Do we really need to see the man in lingerie to know these things?

Col. Williams has been turned into an absurdist portrait of what it is to be crazy. These photos are in the paper to punctuate that thought both through shock value and entertainment. Well, I am shocked, but I am definitely not amused.

Show pictures of the lingerie laid out. Show it on his bed. It is important to see the scope of what he did, but Col. Williams dressed in drag is not needed in the newspapers.

AI

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