Gawker readers pledge more than $200K to buy controversial Rob Ford video

Toronto Star | New York Observer

Gawker's "Crackstarter" project has exceeded its goal of raising $200,000 to buy a cell-phone video that purportedly shows Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack. Ford denied Friday that he'd ever used crack.

Gawker Editor John Cook wrote Thursday that "The last time we established contact with the people who are in possession of the video was this past Sunday, and we have not been able to reach them since." On Monday, Gawker posted this update to its crowdfunding page: "We have had no further contact with the people we believe to have custody of this video since the last update."

Cook has pledged to "donate 100% of the proceeds to a Canadian non-profit institution that helps people suffering from drug addiction and its various consequences" if it is unable to buy the video.

The New York Observer's Peter Sterne asked Canadian donors why they would give money to a for-profit journalism site. Toronto resident Steve Nardi told Sterne “If [Gawker] had purchased the video outright, the Ford Nation [Mr. Ford’s supporters] would bang the drums about it being ‘checkbook journalism’ and attempt to cast doubt on the authenticity of the video.”

The Crackstarter, on the other hand, shows that “the video is being acquired by the people of Toronto who are looking for the truth, sort of ‘democratic journalism.’” If Mr. Ford’s supporters are unhappy, he said, they will be able to “blame the people of Toronto rather than singling out one or two media outlets.”

Cook was scheduled to appear on a Canadian radio show Tuesday morning.


  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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