Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Gawker Hits $200K for 'Crack Cocaine' Video as Mayor's Senior Aides Resign

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Gawker Hits $200K for 'Crack Cocaine' Video as Mayor's Senior Aides Resign

Article excerpt

Gawker hits $200K for 'crack cocaine' video

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TORONTO - American-based website Gawker on Monday hit its $200,000 fundraising goal to buy what it says is a cellphone video appearing to show Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine.

However, whether the site would in fact be able to lay its hands on the video and post it publicly as it has promised to do remained unclear.

Reaching the fundraising target came amid more turmoil in Ford's inner circle, with his announcement that press secretary George Christopoulos and deputy Isaac Ransom had left their jobs.

The departure of the two key figures came days after Ford's chief of staff and the beleaguered mayor parted ways. Still, Ford insisted it would be "business as usual" at city hall.

"We're just soldiering on," Ford said.

In New York, Gawker editor John Cook -- who has not responded to requests to discuss the fundraising campaign -- indicated Monday he was having difficulty finding whoever has the video.

"We have had no further contact with the people we believe to have custody of this video since the last update," Cook said in a posting.

In the previous post from last Thursday, Cook said his confidence in being able to buy the video had "diminished."

He explained how he had lost all contact with the unnamed owner -- a "presumably frightened and skittish" drug dealer -- who allegedly videotaped Ford smoking what appears to be crack and making homophobic and racist remarks.

Gawker has promised to donate the money to a Canadian non-profit that deals with substance abuse if the deal were to fall through.

Over the weekend, a combative mayor used his weekly radio show to declare the video did not exist. He also slammed the media for being "a bunch of maggots."

Sounding contrite on Monday, Ford said he wanted to "sincerely apologize" for the slur.

"It has been bothering me, a lot," he said of his comments, explaining he was under a lot of stress. …

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