The Many Lives of Marion Barry

Before there was Rob Ford in Toronto, there was Marion Barry and the FBI sting video that led to his downfall. In 1979, Washington D.C.’s first black mayor, a former academic and civil rights activist, seemed poised to change the city forever. He did, but not in the way Washingtonians had hoped.

Barry’s decline paralleled that of his city – crack-cocaine began flooding the streets of major U.S. cities including D.C. during Barry’s first term as mayor. He modeled himself as a champion of job creation and many young residents got their first jobs through Barry’s initiatives. However, with the arrival of crack cocaine, the city became the homicide capital of the United States. Critics say the mayor lost control of the city  just as he lost control of his own drug and alcohol problems. What was known privately about the mayor’s behaviour, soon became the target of an F.B.I sting involving an ex-girlfriend who was not his wife. The result: a very  memorable sting video with Barry declaring, “That bitch set me up.” It was a stunning fall from grace, but not the end of the story for Marion Barry.

the fifth estate’s Bob Mckeown investigates the story of a mayor’s disgrace and his continued political ambitions  -- - a story some say is a cautionary tale for citizens of the largest city in Canada and Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford