Independent’s Eye by Joe Gandelman
TORONTO — Canada gave us now-former Mayor Rob Ford, who led comedy writers to get down on their knees, look to the heavens and shout “Thank You!!” due to his alcohol and drug-induced antics, coupled with his uncanny resemblance to Saturday Live’s late Chris Farley. Canada’s biggest scandal now swirls around CBC’s mega-radio-talk show star Jian Ghomeshi — who seems to be doing a Bob Filner imitation.
In case you forgot, the San Diego mayor became a big national story and editorial cartoonists’ favorite during his time in office, which started December 2012 and ended in his August 2013 resignation amid a lawsuit and multiple women alleging sexual harassment.
So many stories surfaced alleging inappropriate behavior by Filner that you almost expected Macy’s to suggest that his accusers walk down the streets of New York on Thanksgiving day.
It got to the point where you got the feeling that the worst answer a female employee could give Filner if he asked her “What do you want for Christmas?” would be: “A Christmas goose.”
Canada’s newspapers are brimming with reports about how the now-fired Ghomeshi liked to hit on women.
Like in BDSM. Women are coming forward in the media claiming he slapped or choked them without permission — and that he’d turn his teddy bear’s head away from them before he started his Marquis de Sade act.
It’s at the point where, if you believe the allegations, you have the feeling the worst thing a woman could ask Ghomeshi would be: “Baby, how about a smack?”
Some, like the Toronto Sun columnist Mike Strobel, think Ghomeshi is Rob Ford deja vu.
“Shocking revelations, one after another, the alleged abuses, a police probe, the sudden removal of power, talk of a troubling video, it’s all so … Fordian,” Strobel wrote. “In fact, Jian Ghomeshi, hero of the liberatti, is making Rob Ford, champion of the right, look like a choirboy…Jeepers Creepers Ghomeshi has dragged the world’s most lovable stuffed toy into the gutter with Chucky, Annabelle, and Stephen King’s cymbal-banging monkey.”
Canada’s press is having a field day. Each day there’s a new tidbit. The Toronto Star: “Journalism students at the University of Western Ontario were cautioned against pursuing internships at Jian Ghomeshi’s popular radio show Q due to concerns about ‘inappropriate’ behavior towards young women by the now-fired host, according to a former student at the school and a journalism professor.”
It’s a real mess. Police are investigating his behavior with CBC employees, and the CBC has hired its own investigator to probe allegations of violence and groping. Ghomeshi is suing CBC for $55 million, arguing he wasn’t fired for good cause — and the CBC wants his lawsuit dropped.
The scandal started Oct. 24, when Ghomeshi announced on the air that he was taking a leave of absence without specifying why. Two days later the CBC announced it was dropping him after receiving information about him that media reports said purportedly showed a woman’s injuries. He argued he was fired only due to information he gave the CBC to prove his rough stuff was consensual after an ex-girlfriend claimed she hadn’t consented.
Next came a story with allegations from three women who had not filed complaints with police. In that story, his attorney insisted his client “does not engage in non-consensual role play or sex (buy sex toys for men) and any suggestion of the contrary is defamatory.” According to one account, nine people have now complained to the media.
This media gift that keeps on giving centers on someone who seemingly had it all. Perhaps for that reason, those around him are alleged to have looked the other way or downplayed longtime rumblings about him. Haven’t we heard that elsewhere before?
The popular host had interviewed the internationally famous such as Woody Allen, and his show’s quality was as excellent as his music had been when he was a musician. By all accounts, his view of life at the top with all the money, power, and appeal to women that goes with it wasn’t slapdash.
Or at least not “dash.”
Copyright 2014 Joe Gandelman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. He also writes for The Week’s online edition. CNN’s John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at [email protected] and can be booked to speak at www.mavenproductions.com. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joegandelman