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Gawker unable to reach owner of alleged Rob Ford video, editor says

TORONTO – Nearing its $200,000 goal, the Gawker-led “Crackstarter” campaign hit a snag Thursday night — editor John Cook says the website has been unable to reach the owner of the alleged Mayor Rob Ford crack video since Sunday.

The crowd-funding campaign is trying to purchase cellphone video that allegedly shows Ford smoking crack cocaine.

By late Thursday, the campaign was at nearly $160,000.

“At the rate it’s going, we will reach our goal by Saturday, if not sooner,” Cook wrote in an update.

However, Cook said that neither the U.S.-based website nor the “tipster” that alerted Gawker to the alleged video has been able to reach the source.

“We were initially made aware of the video by a tipster, who connected us with the owner of the video after we travelled to Toronto,” Cook wrote.

“We’ve been in relatively constant communication with the tipster since then. But he has told us that hasn’t been able to make contact with the owner of the video in recent days.”

In an interview with 680News’ sister station KiSS 92.5, Cook said there is concern whether the alleged video will surface.

“Our confidence that this can actually happen has diminished somewhat,” he said.

“I’m not at all worried that it was a hoax because I know it wasn’t a hoax. I am concerned about whether or not this is actually ever going to see the light of day.”

The campaign will end Monday. Because the initiative is a fixed-funding campaign, it will only receive the funds if the goal is reached by its 11:59 p.m. PT deadline.

Cook said he is hopeful he is able to reach the source or the owner of the alleged video will resurface once the goal is reached.

“I think the intense scrutiny and interest has scared these guys off,” he told KiSS 92.5.

“My hope is that they realize that what they actually wanted to begin with is basically on the table and that they get in touch,” he said.

However, if the goal is met and Gawker cannot obtain the alleged video, the proceeds will go to a Canadian non-profit that focuses on substance abuse issues, Cook said in the update.

The campaign also received a $10,000 contribution Thursday. According to Gawker, the donor would receive “the actual iPhone that was used to record the video.”

“This perk is, of course, contingent on the deal actually happening as we hope,” Gawker wrote on its campaign page.

Last week, both Gawker and the Toronto Star reported they had seen but did not obtain a video allegedly showing Ford appearing to smoke crack cocaine. According to the two reports, it was shot by an alleged drug dealer who was shopping it around for six figures.

Neither of the reports about the alleged video have been independently verified.