Look, I can’t stand this torture any more. I’m a broken man, whimpering and soiling myself in a corner.
I’ll talk, I’ll spill the beans, I’ll tell everything.
Just don’t make me listen to any more of this crap about Daniel Dale, boy hero, saving democracy by throwing all his valuables on the ground and running away when confronted by the mayor of Toronto — someone he knew and who knew him, someone who had a lot more than Dale had to lose by doing something stupid (granted, doing something stupid has never been an impediment to Rob Ford’s strategic planning), and someone who would probably drop dead of a coronary if Dale had just run around in circles, barking like one of Peter Worthington’s corgis or pit bulls or whatever they are.
So a lead reporter for the largest newspaper in Canada gets caught doing his job — checking out the physical lay of the land on a patch of public property (or thereabouts — you have to go and walk around and poke around before you really know what’s what) the mayor of Toronto wants to buy from a public body affiliated with the municipality in which he is King Kong (unless it involves public transit, of course).
So freaking what?
So what if it was 7:30 in the evening (broad daylight in my books) or 10:30 p.m. or 2:30 a.m., for that matter?
Dale was standing on public property, minding his own business ie. the public’s business by prying into Ford’s private business ie. his home turf.
Dale had a right to be there. In my books, anyway.
If he was willing to be run off his legal personal rights by an enraged, overweight, heart-palpitating dingbat twice his age, then that’s his business. But please don’t make this dink a hero for being terrified by the Great Ninny.
Of course the Star loves it. Any newspaper worth its salt loves the publicity, increased circulation (computer clicks now, I guess) and adrenaline rush of a head-to-head battle with the powers-that-be, however soft and squishy their powers may be.
My dear friend Siobhan Moore, a professor of journalism now, once clobbered a Hell’s Angel in either the head (official version) or nuts (private version) with her camera to get away from a much dicier situation.
She ran, of course — and got away to tell the tale, too — but she held on to her (dented) camera the whole way. She didn’t throw it on the ground and plead for mercy from a hulk. There’s much to be said for the solid heft of an old-fashioned
, copper-bodied Nikon Pentax.
I guess it would be hard to K-O Rob Ford in the nuts with a super-slim cell phone. But don’t give the guy your phone and tape/voice recorder just because he’s yelling at you and “cocking his fist.” (When was the last time you heard that expression? Siobhan Moore would have already clocked for real anyone wasting enough time to “cock” his or her fist.)
All of this may sound like I’m advocating some kind of macho, vigilante journalism.
And I’m not advocating that journalists put their lives on the line to get the story. I’m not.
But neither of those scenarios apply in this case.
You’ve got a young reporter sniffing around a possible story (and, be it ever so small, one I think we should all keep an eye on) and you’ve got a harassed mayor feeling like his simple sanctum of respite is being invaded.
When a neighbour alerted Ford that a “prowler” was snooping around the periphery of his property, Ford went rushing out to confront the threat.
And suddenly he was face to face with a mousy little reporter he knew well — and disliked — from City Hall.
At that point, Rob Ford’s “cocked” hand should have come down: There was no longer an obvious physical threat to his family and home from an unknown prowler. But there was a lot of anger and resentment and tension swirling around and the fist stayed “cocked” for too long.
Dale should have done a better job of dealing with an angry mayor straight up, stood his ground and told the mayor to obey the law. In my opinion, anyway. But he didn’t. He cowered and cringed and ran — without his cell phone or recorder.
At this point I have to turn it over to my old friend Peter Worthington, the toughest and gentlest man I know:
“When confronted, journalists don’t usually yell for help, drop their camera and recorder, and run away. Maybe when facing a mob in Somalia, but not when a Toronto mayor catches you snooping. Unless you’re a Star guy, that is. Star icons like Bob Reguly, Jocko Thomas and Ray Timson must be rolling in their graves.”
By the way, when you see the repeated mentions of Daniel Dale being a recent National Newspaper Award recipient, here’s what he won the NNA for:
“Short Features: Winner: Daniel Dale, Toronto Star, for a story of guilt associated with seeing a toonie that someone had dropped on a subway car floor.”
I’m sure it’s a wonderful story but I really think Daniel has to cinch his saddle a few notches tighter if he wants to butt heads with the big boys at City Hall.
And I think that great puffball Rob Ford needs to loosen his saddle a few notches before he explodes into mushroom dandruff.