‘I don’t have disdain for the Fords’ Doolittle says of book

Feb 4, 2014 | News

By Taylor Parsons

“Rob Ford is really insecure and not overly happy,” said Robyn Doolittle, during her live chat on Tuesday to promote her new book, Crazy Town.

“That is where I do find my empathy for him. And I think that’s what really fuels some of his personal demons,” she said.

Doolittle, who works for the Toronto Star, was one of the three journalists to view the infamous video in which the mayor was allegedly seen smoking crack cocaine. The incident ultimately ruptured into months of mayoral scandals – many of which are still ongoing.

Crazy Town was released on Feb. 3, and is a 384-page portrait of Ford, his substance abuse and Doolittle’s pursuit to uncover the truth behind the cities’ scandal.

The Toronto Star faced heavy criticism when news of the video emerged, with many, including Ford, explicitly denying its existence and accusing the Star of lying about its presence.

Humber News asked Doolittle if she could describe the feeling when Police Chief Bill Blair confirmed the existence of the video to the public.

“It was probably one of the greatest moments in my life. For one, I was just so so so surprised. How often are you truly surprised? For me, not often,” she said.

“I totally understand why people had questions about this video. Because for a month when I was talking to the broker I had questions about the video. I understand why the idea of a mayor smoking crack seems so impossible. So, the idea that people might actually get a chance to see that footage, finally, was truly amazing,” she said.

When Humber News asked if Doolittle ever had plans to release the book closer to the upcoming mayoral elections in October, rather than releasing it in February, her answer was definite.

“No absolutely not. I would have released the book in November if I could,” Doolittle told Humber News.  “This is the fastest turn around Penguin Canada has ever had. I wrote the first draft in 91 days. (That’s 1,000 words a day, not including research or the extensive end notes I put together). A lot of people kept saying: how can you publish this with the story not over? But for me the story isn’t a recap of the last three months. It’s about getting here.”

Other users asked Doolittle if she felt more empathetic towards Ford while writing the book.

“To a point for sure. On the other hand, he’s the mayor,” Doolittle said.  “This isn’t about being nice. He’s the mayor of one of the largest governments in Canada. The priority needs to be the well-being of the city. And I think the fact that he doesn’t seem to care what his behaviour has done to the city makes it difficult to feel empathy for him, at least at present.“

Doolittle also clarified she had no ill-will towards the Ford family.

“I don’t have “disdain” for the Fords. I’m a journalist. I’m a city hall beat reporter to be more accurate,” she said.

“And along that journey I realized the mayor I was covering was smoking crack, struggling with alcohol in a way that seriously impacted his ability to do his work, hanging out with alleged gang members who police say are smuggling guns into the city, and associating with criminals. That’s a story you have to follow. Otherwise, why am I in this profession?”

Councillor Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother, expressed his disdain for Doolittle and the book to reporters on Monday.

“(It’s) typical Toronto Star and Robyn Doolittle. It’s always anonymous. Everything’s anonymous,” Doug Ford said. “You know I could put a book together that’s anonymous sources about Robyn Doolittle and all the shenanigans at the Toronto Star, but we have a job to do and that’s to save the taxpayer’s money.”

Doug Ford later said he had not read the book, nor did he have plans to.

Doolittle did not give a direct response to his comments, but did bring up Doug Ford during her chat.

“I haven’t spoken to the Fords in months. I reached out many times while writing the book. I actually told Doug that if he agreed to a sit-down I would run an unedited transcript of our conversation for an entire chapter and that he could say whatever he wanted and I would print it. He declined.”