On Sunday, Councillor Doug Ford described reporters as a “bunch of little sucky little babies.” On Monday, he described them as a “bunch of pricks,” issued a near apology, then made it clear he wasn’t actually sorry.
His ongoing offensive against the media comes after another spate of critical stories about the activities of his brother, Mayor Rob Ford. While Toronto politicians are regularly unhappy with the coverage they receive, it is highly unusual for them to engage in public name-calling.
As Doug Ford walked from a budget committee meeting to his office on Monday morning, a group of reporters asked him what he was referring to when he said on radio on Sunday that the media “lie through their teeth.”
Ford, who is normally loquacious, refused to stop for the rolling cameras.
“All you guys have burned your bridge, so I have no comment,” he said without explanation, then, soon after, added, “At least I’m accurate, unlike you guys.”
He muttered “bunch of pricks” as he entered the door to the hallway near his office. About two hours later, he read an apologetic statement to the Toronto Sun in which he said, “My comments were made in the heat of the moment and out of frustration. I didn’t mean to offend anyone.”
But later in the day, he appeared on talk radio and stood by his words. “What I said today: every politician in the country is probably gonna write me a letter thanking me,” he told AM640’s Arlene Bynon.
Bynon interjected, “For calling them pricks.”
Ford responded, “They are. It’s very simple. In my opinion, they are. Not all of them. Because you’re wonderful, but a lot of them are ruthless, and will do anything to make sure we don’t stop the gravy train.”
The Fords have previously attempted to turn critical media coverage to their advantage by portraying themselves as victims of left-wing elites bent on their destruction. Until recently, however, most of their ire was directed at the Star in particular.
They have escalated their verbal attacks in September, broadening their criticism to specifically include four other major media outlets.
Doug Ford told a CBC reporter that the CBC is a “waste of taxpayers’ money” and referred to a Globe and Mail reporter as “lazy;” on Bynon’s show, he claimed he had threatened to call police on a Global cameraman “in an unmarked car hiding around the corner” of his business.
Global said the encounter was “cordial,” Ford had never threatened to call police, and the cameraman was simply shooting footage for a story on the mayor’s controversial request for road repairs outside the building.
Rob Ford called reporters “pathological liars” Sunday on the radio show he co-hosts with Doug Ford — and used Newstalk 1010, the right-leaning station that broadcasts the show, as his prime example.
In the last two weeks, the mayor has faced stories on his use of his staff and a city car to help with his football teams, on the repairs request, and on his false claim that taxpayers won’t pay “a dime” for the business trip he led to Chicago.