“Fool,” “disgraced,” “fart-catching,” a “shameless felon,” “crooked,” and “Great Blovarian.” These are six names that Conrad Black complains he was called by Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno in a Dec. 11 column.
Black accused Michael Cooke, the editor of the Toronto Star, of directing DiManno to attack him in his own column Dec. 14 for Canada’s National Post.
Black is the Vision TV host who aired an interview with Toronto mayor Rob Ford that is now the subject of a libel lawsuit brought by Star reporter Daniel Dale. In that National Post column, Black attacked the Toronto Star for what he called “rabid hostility” toward Mayor Ford. Black defended Ford’s comments about Dale and called the Star “a banal, middle-brow newspaper” employing columnists who “are nasty, as dull as dried parsley, and many of them can’t write.”
DiManno is somewhat of a flamethrower at the Toronto Star. In October, tons of readers complained about her column saying bicyclists “have risen to No. 1 on my list of People Who Should be Shot.” In January, DiManno’s column on a rape trial opened with the line: “She lost a woman but gained a penis.” Many readers complained about the article, but DiManno wouldn’t give us her side of the story, saying we’re not “real” because we’re online-only.”
Dale announced last week he was suing Ford and Vision TV over Ford’s comments to Black suggesting, but not saying, he was a pedophile. The comments related to a 2012 incident when Dale says he was on public land next to Ford’s house reporting a story. Ford said: “I have little kids, and when a guy’s taking pictures of little kids, I don’t want to say that word, but you start thinking, you know, what’s this guy all about?”
Black argued that Ford wasn’t implying Dale was a pedophile and accused the Star of being “unreservedly hostile” to him for nearly 40 years. He wrote of Ford’s comments:
“The plainest meaning that can be ascribed to these words is that Mr. Ford was explaining his thoughts at the time, before he found out that the person lurking about his property line was a reporter, not a predator.
“Anyone who has had small children knows the concerns of lurking strangers, and all of us who have been hounded unmercifully in our homes by the media know how unutterably provoking it is. The notion that the mayor had insinuated that Dale was a pervert was a confection uniquely of his colleagues at the Star, and he has his colleagues to thank for whatever stigmatization he feels he has suffered.”
Black also claimed the Toronto Star was trying “to brand the mayor as a criminal and substance-abuser who is unfit for pubic office.”
However, iMediaEthics notes that Ford only admitted to using crack cocaine after police obtained a video of him smoking crack cocaine. For six months, Ford denied such a tape existed, despite news reports from the Star and Gawker attesting to its existence. Since Ford’s belated admission, the Star paid $5,000 and obtained another video of a drunken Ford screaming about planning to kill someone. Ford’s bizarre antics also included making lewd comments in a press conference, which he followed with a public apology.
iMediaEthics is writing to the Toronto Star and Black for a response and will update with any response.