Toronto Star Columnist Rosie Dimanno has taken issue with the decision by her newspaper to publish details of Mayor John Tory’s affair with a staffer and his subsequent resignation. In today’s edition she wrote, “I can’t think of a good reason why Tory is less fit to occupy the Mayor’s office than he was a week ago.” And then turning on the paper’s editors she continued, “I can’t think of a public interest reason to have exposed Tory’s extra-marital affair…either,” adding that she would not have authorized running the story.
She also dismissed the argument that the affair is a breach of conduct because of the “power imbalance” that exists between the Mayor and a staff member. She wrote, “that implies an adult professional female is incapable of making her own decisions. It infantilizes women in my opinion.”
As DiManno points out, there may well emerge facts that provide justification for the story and Tory’s decision to resign, but without some new revelation, it is fair to question whether the story was justified. Already some members of Tory’s inner circle are exploring the idea of approaching him about staying on. In the course of managing a large TV newsroom, I can testify that all kinds of embarrassing information about public figures crosses your desk—sexual peccadillos, sexual identity, alcohol and drug use, lots of stuff. The standard we applied was whether the information could be shown to have a negative impact on the individual’s ability to conduct themselves in office. Based on Tory’s performance over the time that the relationship was underway there was no visible impairment of his ability to do the job.
Elsewhere in the Star the reporters who broke the story, suggested Tory decided to resign only after conferring with his inner circle and being told it was best that he resigned. This skips over the fact that the only reason they gave that advice was the impending Star story. No story—no resignation.
The justification for the expose is that it was in the public interest, but it’s questionable whether the city of Toronto is better off with an experienced mayor sidelined, with no obvious successor in place. The Star so far at least, has not made the case that this story was in the public interest.
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