Sean Morrow
May 20, 2013 2:00 am

If they handed out a handbook to all Mayors the world over, a sort of guide on how to run a city, one of the obvious tenets would be “Don’t smoke crack,” followed closely by, “If you absolutely must smoke crack, don’t let yourself get videotaped doing it.”

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (allegedly) fails on both counts. A video of Mayor Ford smoking crack and (allegedly) calling a political rival (or his son) a “f**got” is being shopped around to news outlets.

The sellers, supposedly Somali drug dealers (but that sounds like a generic movie villain so I’m not sure it’s actually Somali drug dealers) are asking for an exorbitant amount of money for the thing, somewhere in the six figure range. News outlets can’t afford that, because unfortunately many of them can barely afford to exist.

Gawker, equally a purveyor of gossip and bastion of ‘real journalism,’ wants to buy the tape (Gawker writer John Cook has seen the video) and publish it. But they want your money to make it happen.

The newsblog has put together an Indiegogo (the Pepsi to Kickstarter’s Coke) .to gather funds to purchase and publish the video. The attempt has been called ‘Crackstarter‘, even though it’s not even on Kickstarter. I guess it’s kind of like when you call all tissues Kleenex. As of the morning of the 20th, they’ve raised $73k. The project he has raised lots of questions about the legitimacy of using crowdfunding for this type of thing.

Recently, Zach Braff had the Internet’s hate rained down upon him when he put up a Kickstarter for his new movie – some kind of followup to Garden State where he’s forlorn and stares a lot again – because why should the public give millions of dollars to a man who doesn’t need it so he can further his creative aspirations, while many that do need it don’t get that same help? The concept of deepening Braff’s already deep pockets, only to further deepen those pockets when the film is released in theaters and you spend 14 bucks on a ticket is appalling to many.

Conclusive proof that the Mayor of North America’s fourth largest city smokes crack is probably more valuable than another Zach Braff movie, is it not? But then again, Gawker is set to make a lot of money from the release of the video; it is sure to get bajillions of page views (page views it’s surely already gotten a large fraction of just for positing the Indiegogo). But then again again, the public would be ostensibly giving money to Somali drug lords.

I don’t think the Indiegogo is necessary. Several reputable journalists have already come out saying they’ve seen the video, and in politics that should be enough to ruin Mayor Ford’s career. When you put “Rob Ford” into Google, it suggests “Rob Ford crack.” Other than the bizarreness of seeing a public figure lighting a crack pipe, what value does the video serve? Many justify spending the money by saying that Mayor Ford has been doing a bad job as Mayor, and this is a good way to oust him, but it looks like he’s already been ousted.

The great thing about Kickstarter and Indiegogo is that donating money is voluntary and you can donate to whatever you want, so really there are no “bad” Kickstarters. Complaining about a wasteful Kickstarter is silly: Zach Braff isn’t at your door demanding five bucks and then shoving an exclusive early soundtrack in your face after you hand him the money. Sure, ‘bad Kickstarters’ dilute the good ones, taking away opportunity from the deserving, but won’t the public filter these out?

In the end what we can really take from this is this: is Zach Braff actually a Somali drug lord? I’m looking at some documents here and it all checks out.

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