Rob Ford Crack Video May Be 'Gone,' Gawker Editor John Cook Says

06/04/2013 08:04 pm ET | Updated Jun 04, 2013
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The bizarre, weeks-long saga surrounding Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his alleged use of crack cocaine might be coming to an anti-climactic close.

On May 16, Gawker Editor-in-Chief John Cook claimed to have seen video of Ford smoking a crack pipe. Shortly thereafter, Gawker opened a page on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to raise $200,000 from readers to purchase the footage from its Canadian proprietor, a man Cook would describe as a drug dealer linked to Ford.

Gawker met the $200,000 goal on May 27, but had days earlier lost contact with the video's owner. On Tuesday evening, Cook confirmed that the video might really be "gone."

The "Crackstarter" campaign became an international sensation, generating major media coverage in both Canada and the United States. That intense scrutiny apparently played a role in the video's failure to materialize. "The owner was trying to sell the video," Cook writes, "but he apparently didn't want or anticipate the media circus that erupted after the story broke." Also factoring in, Cook says, was pressure from Toronto's ethnic Somali community on the video's owner, identified as a Somali man by the Toronto Star.

As Cook writes:

According to the intermediary, these two factors—a fear of being identified, and a strong desire from the Somali community to make the whole thing go away—led the owner of the video to go to ground and soured the owner's relationship with the intermediary...

Which brings us to this past Friday, when the intermediary called to tell me that he had finally heard from the owner. And his message was: "It's gone. Leave me alone." It was, the intermediary told me, a short conversation.

On May 24, Ford denied during a press conference that he smoked crack cocaine, and insisted that video of him engaging in the illicit act did not exist. However, the Toronto Star reported that Ford had earlier met with staffers to assure them such a video was no cause for concern because "he knew where it was."

If the video fails to turn up "soon," Cook writes, Gawker will donate the money it raised from its Indiegogo campaign to "a Canadian nonprofit that addresses substance abuse issues."

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