Gawker Crowdfunds to Buy Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Crack Tape

Rob Ford - H 2013

The U.S. gossip site has raised $66,500 on Indiegogo toward the $200,000 required to buy the smartphone video from Somali drug dealers.

TORONTO -- It may not be William Randolph Hearst out to "furnish" the Spanish-American War, but Gawker is making headway as it crowdfunds to buy and publish a video showing Toronto mayor Rob Ford reportedly smoking crack cocaine.

With nine days to go, Gawker on Sunday morning said it had raised $66,500 on Indiegogo toward a goal of $200,000 to buy the Rob Ford crack tape from Somali drug dealers in Toronto.

Reporters from Gawker and the Toronto Star insist they have seen the video in question where Ford is said to grip and inhale from a glass crack pipe.

The Toronto mayor on Friday brushed off the crack cocaine allegations as "ridiculous" and has since gone to ground, including cancelling his regular Sunday radio talk show.

Even Washington, D.C. council member Marion Barry was looking to distance himself from Rob Ford. Barry, as that city’s mayor 23 years ago, was caught smoking crack on video by the FBI.

"Unless he was entrapped by the government, it's not similar," Barry told Washington City Paper.

To build on its exclusive, Gawker wants to purchase and stream what it regards as "a crystal clear, well-lit video of the mayor of Toronto smoking crack cocaine, published on Gawker for the world to see."

If the holders of the video disappear or back down on their commitment to sell the tape, Gawker said it will "donate every penny we receive to a Canadian non-profit that helps people suffering from addiction and its consequences."

There are perks to take part in the "Crackstarter" campaign.

For a $1,000 donation, there is dinner with the Gawker staff in New York City, and $10,000 earns the actual iPhone device used to record the video.

"This perk is, of course, contingent upon the deal actually happening as we hope. There's a chance that the owners will deliver the video but not the phone," Gawker cautions.