UPDATE-- MAY 27, 2013, 9:46 AM EASTERN EDT: We have had no further contact with the people we believe to have custody of this video since the last update.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: PLEASE GO HERE AND READ BEFORE YOU CONSIDER DONATING. Our confidence that we can consummate this transaction has diminished.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smokes crack cocaine. Gawker is trying to purchase a video of Ford smoking crack cocaine. If we raise $200,000, the owners have promised to hand it over so we can publish it online.
This is what the video shows, in Cook's recounting: "Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, is the only person visible in the frame. It is well-lit, clear. Ford is seated, in a room in a house. In one hand is a a clear, glass pipe. The kind with a big globe and two glass cylinders sticking out of it. In the other hand is a lighter. A slurred voice off-camera is ranting about Canadian politics in what sounds like an attempt to goad Ford. Ford, pipe in one hand and lighter in the other, is laughing, and mildly protesting at the sacrilege. He seems to keep trying to light the pipe, but keeps stopping to laugh. He is red-faced and sweaty, heaving with each breath. Finally, he finds his moment and lights up. He inhales."
From the Star's account: “'I’m f---ing right-wing,' Ford appears to mutter at one point. 'Everyone expects me to be right-wing. I’m just supposed to be this great.…' and his voice trails off. At another point he is heard calling Trudeau a 'fag.' Later in the 90-second video he is asked about the football team and he appears to say (though he is mumbling), 'they are just f---ing minorities.'"
We are raising the money to purchase the video and publish it so the citizens of Toronto can watch a startlingly clear video of their mayor smoking crack. The people who are selling it want money. But they also want security. During Cook's trip to Toronto earlier this week to view the tape, they told him that they will not feel safe in the city after the video comes out. Ford is a powerful man, with powerful friends, and these are young kids who fear a possible frame-up from Toronto cops or worse. The money they are asking for will, they say, cover their departure from Toronto to get set up in another city where they will feel safer. Right now, they are in hiding.
This is a fluid situation. The people who have this video have been straight with Gawker so far, and honored every commitment they have made. We have every expectation that they will live up to their end of the bargain and, if enough money is raised, hand over the video. But buying videos of prominent political figures smoking crack inherently involves a bit of unavoidable dodginess. In the even that, for some reason, the deal goes south and we raise the money but don't get the video, Gawker pledges to donate 100% of the proceeds to a Canadian non-profit institution that helps people suffering from drug addiction and its various consequences. We'll figure out what that is later if it comes to it.
But that's not going to happen! Because we're going to raise the money and use it to buy a video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine and publish it online! Please help us get there.