Rob Ford and Mary Walsh: Do Two Wrongs Make A Funny?

It’s not that I’m without sympathy for Mayor Rob Ford.

Honest to God, I believe getting a death threat or two could put the willies into anyone.

However, his misrepresentation of the “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” ambush at his home has me wondering why he’d want anyone to know that he felt threatened by little ol’ lady Mary Walsh, even dressed up in her vaunted Marg Delahunty, Warrior Princess garb.

Walsh as Marg Delahunty. Prime Minister Harper as himself.

You hear Ford’s account of the event and you’re led to believe that he thought he was under siege by some lunatic assassin, ready to send the mayor to meet his maker. One glance at the video and you’re certain that the mayor was..umm… enhancing an objective description of the events. After all, he did want us to believe that great confusion can be born in the early morning darkness. Obviously, it was really, really undark when the CBC comedy crew came charging up his driveway.

His credibility in the matter is tarnished, if not lost due to the outright fabrication as to the daylight conditions.

So, his wanting us to believe that he feared for his safety and that of his daughter’s is a little far-fetched. A 911 call placed to police was really unnecessary.

Even if the mayor didn’t recognize the Canadian Queen of uncomfortable moments on television, I’m pretty sure he’d recognize a camera crew. And a microphone. He’s seen way too many of those to mistake it for a sword. Which, really, would be the weapon of choice of a warrior princess.

And unlike so many of his detractors, I don’t think Rob Ford is stupid. That he’s plenty smart and savvy enough to recognize an ambush interview led by a woman dressed like a WalMart-costumed version of Joan Of Arc.

Added to that, is his very casual exit from his vehicle as Walsh harassed him. He moves quite calmly and deliberately away from her, even as she lays a hand on him to pat him on the back.

So. Terrorized? Frightened? Needing to call 911 for immediate assistance? No.

Quite simply, Ford did not want to play. Didn’t want anything to do with a “gotcha” interview performed by someone who’s well – versed in making subjects look uncanny, if not downright foolish. Unless they go along for the ride. Which is a choice the mayor could have made, but really, how many of us would feel comfortable thrusting back at the parry of a well-aimed satirical sword of someone they feel is a political enemy?

Fair choice, that.

Especially when you’re on your own driveway.

Rob Ford wearing bling that would make a warrior princess blush.

Public figure or not, Walsh and her crew had no business mining for political comedy on Mayor Ford’s personal property. Doesn’t matter if they’d invited him to partake in some silliness in the past, with no cooperation. Doesn’t matter if they’d tried before to ambush him in a public place, with no result. It’s not like the mayor is Graham James, hiding out in Mexico until hunted down by Bob McKeown and his Fifth Estate crew. That kind of surprise interview serves a public good and should thus be protected and even celebrated. That’s real news. Good journalism. “22 Minutes” is nothing like a real news show, of course. Mayor Ford is nothing like an on the lam criminal. Because of that, they should have thought better of sideswiping an elected official at home.

Ambush interviews in the world of comedy can serve a very useful purpose. Really funny moments can sprout from them. It’s a valid comedic prop. Whether you think Walsh and her show are funny, is really beside the point. Point is, they’re trying to be funny. They’re using a time-worn tool at their disposal. It’s just that they took it to a place it doesn’t belong.

They shouldn’t do it again. While we’re doling out “shouldn’ts,” Mayor Ford shouldn’t distort the truth to make some believe he had a real scare in this thing.

As for all the chatter being done that the mayor’s stupid for not recognizing a prank, and that Walsh should be charged with assault? Well, maybe some comedy came out of this after all.

[box border=”full”]To read “Don Cherry: You Should Be Thankful For Him,” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read “Blatchford’s Layton column: Timing Is Everything,” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”] To read “Sun TV Interview Isn’t Worth Complaining About,” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read “140 Character Assassination,” click here. [/box]

The Gist Of It – October 19, 2011


This week, Bill Hayes and Don Landry sink their teeth into a wide range of topics. Bryant Gumbel’s comments about racism in NBA collective bargaining, the lack of focus in the Occupy Toronto protests, even Shia LaBeouf’s reported troubles in Vancouver. As well, they discuss the accomplishments of the late columnist, Earl McRae, and  argue over whether an elderly barber in Nova Scotia should get more money from a guy who bought his antique hockey stick from him.

2 Mill for this hockey stick? Wonder how much the snowshoes are worth….

Segment 1 – Bryant Gumbel. Racial overtones in NBA collective bargaining? Nonsense.

Segment 2 – “Occupy Toronto.” What the hell are you trying to say?!

Segment 3 – Don Cherry’s apology. Arron Asham’s apology. And complaints that the NHL is turning into a touch hockey league.

Segment 4 – The plight of injured Leaf Centre Tim Connolly and the hot start for Phil Kessel.

Segment 5 – A Nova Scotia barber sold an antique hockey stick to someone for a thousand dollars. Now, it’s been appraised at 2 million. Should the buyer share the profits? Bill says: “Tough luck.” Don says: “Pony up the dough.”

Segment 6 – The great Earl McRae. Don and Bill share warm memories of the columnist/broadcaster who passed away last weekend. And some funny Earl stories, too.

Segment 7 – Trending on Twitter. Is that ever good? Not for Shia LaBeouf.

The Gist Of It – October 13, 2011


This week, Don Landry and Bill Hayes wrap their noggins around such conversational topics as Don Cherry, the Blackberry crisis, the best movie tough guys and the dysfunction of the Boston Red Sox. In honour of the remake of Footloose, it’s an all singing, all dancing edition of The Gist Of It.

Who doesn’t love a guy in a jacket like that?

Segment 1 – A quick hello and update on Bill’s basement.

Segment 2 – “Bombs Away:” Don sets his sights on Blackberry whiners and Bill can’t find a book he really, really wants.

Segment 3 – Don can’t believe Bill thinks Jason Statham should be mentioned in the same breath as Clint Eastwood.

Segment 4 – Grapes. Bill thinks Don Cherry’s dangerous. Don tells him to relax about it.

Segment 5 – More Cherry. Should he be allowed to continue? Is Ron MacLean the real culprit?

Segment 6 – The collapse and housecleaning of the Boston Red Sox: Don declares that the dysfunction of the team should have been remedied long before the exits of Terry Francona and Theo Epstein.

Segment 7 – The boys want people to stop tweeting every little thing and focus on quality.

[button link=”” bg_color=”#666666″ window=”yes”]To read: “Don Cherry: You Should Be Thankful For Him,” click here.[/button]

Don Cherry: You Should Be Thankful For Him

The Don Cherry haters are out in full force. Off with his head, they cry, or, at least, off with his mic. But here’s the news for Don Cherry bashers:

You should be thankful for him.

That’s right, thankful. While the progressive thinkers and modern hockey sages knock him down and drag him through the dirt, demanding that he be removed from the air, while they expend vast amounts of energy decrying his continued presence during their precious intermission time, while they pound the desk and turn beet-red and wail about the damage he’s doing to the forward march of hockey’s continued emergence from the dark ages, they are missing an obvious point. That Don Cherry is helpful to the cause.

Because here’s the great irony about Don Cherry’s notorious rant during Thursday night’s segment of Coach’s Corner:

It will accelerate hockey’s march towards improved player safety and intolerance for cheap shots and fisticuffs.

Don Cherry: He's actually doing you a favour.

Let’s put aside, for a moment, your great distaste for Don Cherry’s views on hockey. Let’s put aside the supposed issue of whether he should be allowed to “sully” the good name of the great tradition that is Hockey Night In Canada. None of that matters when it comes to the changing face of hockey’s physical contact rules.

Instead, let’s focus on what today has brought, in the wake of Cherry’s unabashed tirade against a gentler brand of pro hockey.

Yes, the usual outlets for discussion have been mobilized to talk about the issues of head hunting and pugilism in the NHL. Nothing new there, as there is an ongoing conversation about the state of the game and where it’s going at the sports media outlets. But check the level of vigour, intensity and frequency of these discussions. Amplified greatly in the wake of Cherry’s latest assault on progress.

As well, you’ll hear this discussion on non sports outlets as well. Jim Richards, at NEWSTALK 1010 made room for a conversation with former NHL enforcer Chris Nilan, amidst the usual current events and pop culture fare he offers on a daily basis. And this on a day where there’s no shortage of provincial election subject matter. (Note: while Richards booked both Nilan and Jim Thomson, he informed me after this blog was posted that both were no-shows)

So, what we have here, is a real spike in the conversation about the state of hockey. Born in discussions about the relevance and appropriateness of Don Cherry’s performance and standing, the back-and-forth invariably turns to tangential issues. Issues that have nothing to do with Cherry, and everything to do with player safety and where the NHL is headed.

Cherry’s strongly worded condemnations of the sport becoming too kind, too gentle, should be welcomed by those who oppose him. Because every time he overpowers even his own previous outrageous diatribes, it is met with an equally, if not more, powerful response in opposition. It’s a chemistry that jolts the conversation forward in leaps and bounds.

Ask yourself this question: Do you think Don Cherry is a buffoon? A clown not worthy of being taken seriously? Do you believe what he stands for is damaging? I’d argue that you can’t have it both ways. If Cherry is to be ridiculed, he is not to be taken seriously. Therefore, what he says isn’t nearly so damaging as you might think. After all, he isn’t going to sway you to his side. It’s also a given that you can’t sway someone who believes what he says to be the gospel truth, to your side of the equation. That part of it is a wash.

What we are left with is the malleable undecideds. Tell me, does it strike you that moderate people can generally be convinced to shift to the reckless fringes of any issue? Or are they more likely to be turned off by heavy-handed rhetoric. If it’s your kids you worry about, maybe you can keep them  from watching the “funny man in the crazy clothes.” If not, you should be able to easily combat the weekly lessons you fear they may be taught by counteracting them with lessons from the one person your kid really aspires to be like: You.

Think Don Cherry shouldn’t be allowed to “peddle his poison” on national TV? Wrong. He has a right to state his opinion. You have a right to state yours. But it is a widely held and cherished notion that we do not muzzle a Canadian’s right to his or her opinion and thoughts, unless they reach the pernicious threshold of mongering hate or discrimination. Cherry’s opinions on hockey fall far short of that and should not be the subject of banishment discussions.

Don’t like Don Cherry? Hit one of the buttons on your clicker when the time comes.

And rest assured that he’s actually doing you a favour by providing a loud,  provocative counterpoint to the glacial advance of change in the NHL.

He makes that glacier move much more quickly.

[box border=”full”]To read “Hockey Night Or Election Night? Both!” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read “140 Character Assassination,” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read “Hockey Canada’s Headshot Rules: Necessary Medicine?” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read “Gary Bettman’s Winnipeg Quotes Translated,” click here.[/box]


The Gist Of It – October 5, 2011


This week on “The Gist Of It,” Bill Hayes and Don Landry wonder how the Progressive Conservative Party let Ontario get away from them (at least according to the latest polls). They’re amused by Hank Williams Jr’s attempt at political commentary and the possibility of Madonna playing the halftime show at the Superbowl. They size up the Leafs’ chances in the upcoming NHL season and debate Leaf forward Clark MacArthur’s view that hitting is being taken out of the game. Bill thinks MacArthur has a point, while Don says that’s nonsense.

Segment 1 – Is Madonna the right choice for the Superbowl’s halftime show?

Segment 2 – How did Tim Hudak and the Tories sink so quickly in the polls?

Segment 3 – Hank Williams and his Netenyahu/Hitler golf comment. How stupid do you have to be…

Segment 4 – Bill is not impressed by the Leafs’ latest trade.

Segment 5 – What chance have the Leafs in the Eastern Conference? Don: playoffs. Bill: uh, no.

Segment 6 – Is hitting being taken out of the NHL? Bill believes it might be. Don gets irked by the argument.

Segment 7 – Isn’t Apple ticking off its customers by being too innovative?

Segment 8 – Bill wants to know what Don is thankful for.