Former media baron Conrad Black says his television interview with Rob Ford was intentionally non-confrontational, and adds that it wasn't his job to press the Toronto mayor when Ford hinted that a Toronto Star reporter was a pedophile.
Black made the comments during an interview Wednesday with Carol Off of CBC Radio's As It Happens.
Off questioned Black about a television interview Black did with Ford that aired Monday evening on VisionTV, asking him why he didn't confront the mayor about his allegations against Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale.
"I put relevant questions to the mayor and he answered them," said Black. "It's not for me to vouch for the truthfulness of his answers. I don't engage in a debating style on these things."
Black said guests on this show are invited to take part in "conversations," not "interviews."
"I don't like that style where you get in someone's face, and are unnecessarily belligerent and aggressive with them," said Black. "That's not what I do and I promise invitees onto our program that I'm not going to do that. That doesn't mean I won't ask them questions the answers to which they might find embarrassing."
Ford was speaking about an incident last year when the mayor confronted Dale near his property. The Star journalist had been gathering information about public land the mayor hoped to purchase adjacent to his Etobicoke home when Ford confronted him at the rear of his property. Police were called and they investigated the matter, but within days determined that no charges would be laid.
Black doesn't engage in 'debating style'
When describing the incident to Black, Ford cast it as an occasion in which his children were playing outside and the reporter was taking pictures.
Though he didn't say the word "pedophile" during his interview with Black, Ford hinted that Dale was a pedophile.
"Daniel Dale is in my backyard taking pictures," he tells Black during the interview.
"I have little kids. He's taking pictures of little kids," Ford said. "I don't want to say that word but you start thinking what this guy is all about."
Off asked Black why he didn't challenge Ford's statement about Dale, especially when the show was taped three days before it aired on Monday evening.
"I haven't made a study of every aspect of the mayor's controversy," said Black. "When that was going on I was on a trip around the world.
"I don't hold myself out as an authority on municipal affairs. I did a fair amount of research. I put relevant questions to the mayor and he answered them. It's not for me to vouch for the truthfulness of his answers. I don't engage in a debating style on these things."
Black also said he didn't believe Ford was insinuating that Dale was a pedophile.
"I don't think any of us who have young children under the age of 10 would have been particularly pleased about seeing stranger leering out over the back fence looking at them," said Black. "I did not take it that [Ford] was saying [Dale] was a pedophile."
Off also asked why Ford's statement about Dale wasn't edited out in the three days between the time the show was taped and when it aired.
"I conduct the interviews and there are other people in that company that do the followup on that," said Black.
Black also denied he supports or endorses Ford as a candidate.
"I gather, it has been imputed to me that I am aligned with Ford and a supporter of his for re-election — that is not the case, I never said any such thing," Black said. "And that would not, in fact, be my view, unless his opponent was somebody that was just really terribly unacceptable."
Star reporter considers legal action
Dale has said Ford’s suggestion was "false," "malicious" and "defamatory." The journalist is considering whether to take legal action as a result of the mayor’s comments.
The newspaper’s editor in chief, Michael Cooke, has also slammed the mayor over his remarks, which also spurred Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly to denounce Ford’s "dead wrong" comments and call on him to apologize.
Ford’s account to Black contradicts what Dale said at the time of the May 2012 incident, namely that he didn’t look over the mayor’s fence and wasn’t there to take pictures.
The journalist has since reiterated that he never took photos of the mayor, his family or his house, which Dale said was what the police investigation found as well.
Latest controversy for Ford
Ford has made headlines around the world for a drug-related controversy that has raged for months.
In May, reports emerged that someone had been shopping a video showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine.
Ford long denied both using the drug and the video’s existence, until police revealed in October that they had obtained a video file that was consistent with what the media had reported.
Within days, Ford admitted he had smoked crack cocaine. The mayor also admitted to buying illegal drugs while serving in office and also to drinking to excess.
Ford also admitted being "extremely inebriated" in a separate video that came to light, showing him ranting and swearing. The Star paid to obtain the video, which it published on its website.
The mayor has ignored all calls to step down, or even to take a leave of absence in the wake of his many admissions and related apologies. Ford has sat down for a number of high-profile interviews, including with NBC, Fox News, CNN and more recently with Black.
Despite the controversy and others that came before it, Ford has said he will run for re-election next year. He has also said it will be an "outright war" between him and his opponents on council.
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