By: Hugh Smith
Ford Nation is back on the air.
The embattled mayor uploaded the first episode of his new web series, Ford Nation, on Monday. Back in November, Mayor Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, hosted a show under the same name on Sun TV. The show was cancelled after one episode.
In three separate videos, the mayor and his brother discussed everything from alleged substance abuse problems to the World Cup of Soccer in Brazil set to take place in 2016.
In a 30 second teaser at the end of January, the Ford brothers bantered on camera about the mayor’s politics, saying he has no left or right political allegiance, and that he “pulled [the hands of city councilors] out of the cookie jar,” according to Councillor Doug Ford.
Becky Coles, a radio producer with Newstalk 1010, has worked with the Fords in the past on their radio show, The City.
“They were always very nice to me,” Coles said. “They really made me feel like I was a valued part of their show.”
That working relationship was so positive that Coles remained in contact with the Ford brothers after they and the station parted ways in November 2013 when they mutually agreed to end the show. It was in one of the conversations she had with Councillor Ford that the idea of an online show came up.
“When Councillor Ford and I were discussing options for them, I had suggested they should do more of a podcast or something video based online,” said Coles. “He loved the idea and I guess had already been thinking of it.”
Coles said she was also in discussions with the Fords to be the producer for the web show, but in the end, those discussions didn’t pan out. A press release from the mayor’s office last week said Ford Nation is “produced by volunteers”.
Online reaction to Ford Nation’s debut has been swift. A new YouTube channel, called Ford Nation Rebuttal, was started after the release of the teaser video. Since then, two videos have been released, contesting the claims the Fords made in their first episode and teaser video with contradictory statements or actions they have made in the past.
Zack Taylor, an associate professor of Urban Politics at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus, said that political campaigning tactics such as this are becoming the norm.
“It is a pretty normal thing to do now that social media has main-streamed,” said Taylor. “It’s definitely a tactic politicians are warming to.”
However, Taylor said he doesn’t see this being very effective.
“Something like this is probably only going to speak to people who are inclined to be interested in him in the first place,” Taylor said. “I doubt if some sort of social media campaign like this would recruit very many new sympathizers.”
Coles disagrees. She said the show has great potential.
“It could have a great effect, but you have to get the people watching, and you have to get the people watching that don’t already vote for you,” Coles said. “If you have people watching that are on the fence or maybe can’t stand you, then hopefully you’ll have a chance to change their minds, and their perception of Rob Ford.”