Who shall steer Toronto now that Ford has crashed?

Depressing and discouraging are the words which best describe the impact of Robyn Doolittle’s new book Crazy Town, The Rob Ford Story.

Doolittle is the Toronto Star reporter who broke the story about the video of Ford smoking what appeared to be crack.

And the book recounts the details of the Ford family, the rise of the Ford brothers, the work she and other Star reporters did in breaking the crack story, as well as all the other bizarre things Mayor Rob Ford has done.

Among the depressing bits: almost half of those polled a few weeks after the crack video story broke thought the video was a hoax.

In the choice between trusting experienced journalists working for a responsible newspaper, and trusting the mayor and his brother who said there was no such video, half of those polled chose the Ford brothers.

And that happened after the Ford brothers had been known not to be untruthful about past episodes.

Doolittle points out that generally in the Western world less than a third of the public trusts journalists.

Instead, many trust what’s said on talk radio and talk television by individuals who place a high value on their own opinions and little value on truth.

The Fords and CFRB knew this, hence the radio station giving the Fords a weekly show, only cancelled after the mayor’s behaviour was too embarrassing for the station to defend.

It is also depressing to realize just how much Rob Ford says things that are not true.

In telling the story Doolittle has to repeat all these instances where one thing happened and then the mayor said it never happened.

Later more information comes to light to confirm the original assessment and the mayor simply moves on, maybe saying, “I’m only human,” as though it’s human to constantly mislead and play fast and loose with the truth.

One surprise was to learn the extent to which the Star committed staff resources in researching stories about the crack video and its aftermath.

Enough reporters were assigned to track down the identity of the other men in the photo of Rob Ford in front of the garage, to scour the streets looking for the garage that loomed behind the men in the photo, to find out who was living in the house (the Basso family) and then to learn all the charges laid against members of that family.

It was a thoroughly professional approach by the newspaper, and it paralleled the investigation being carried on by the Toronto police.

Disappointment is all one can conclude about the likely outcome of the October municipal election. Doolittle believes Rob Ford can win that election.

She notes that he won the 2010 election with 47% of the vote, and polling now shows his support at 44%.

That Ford lies about his accomplishments (he has not saved the city $1 billion) seems to be irrelevant to those polled, maybe because they are ready to believe what he says no matter what the real facts are as reported by the media.

I approached Doolittle’s book with apprehension. Did I really want to read the horrible Rob Ford story in all of its awful detail?

But once I started, I couldn’t put it down.

It’s smart and includes enough detail that I didn’t pick up as the stories unfolded over the last eight months, and I was pulled in by her analysis and the pressures she faced from an unbelieving public who thought she was just part of a campaign against Ford, as the Ford brothers alleged. And of course at the end I was depressed and disappointed, not because of how the book was written, but by the conclusions she drew which seemed so reasonable given what she has learned.

And what do we do next? That’s the difficult question.

It doesn’t seem that John Tory or Karen Stinz has the answer, but they still have time to grow as candidates.

Will Olivia Chow?

John Sewell is a former Mayor of Toronto.