The Best (And Worst) Scandal-Gates


We’re feeling pretty inundated with scandal-gates lately. According to some sources, 175 scandals use the “-gate” suffix, which has us thinking: Are we living in a time of Gategate?

Of course, the “gating” trend began after a series of politically motivated crimes took place at the Watergate Hotel in the 1970s, leading to President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974. We thought it would be fun to open up a selection of these gates, some of which are serious and sure to be familiar; others…well, they’re just bizarre.


We start off, aptly, with a gate that involves another craze: our frenzy for all things celebrity. Celebgate opened in 2014, when hackers stole almost 500 private (sometimes nude) pictures of a number of celebrities (like Jennifer Lawrence), posting several of them online. Alarmingly, one hacker alone broke into entire iPhone backups and over 50 celebrity iCloud and Gmail accounts. Early this year, the hacker Edward Majerczyk, was sentenced to a 9-month prison term.



No matter your political leanings, Donald Trump’s conversation filmed in 2005 for an episode of Access Hollywood is worthy of the name scandal, in the most serious, non-Hollywood, sense of the word.

In the episode, Trump divulged his penchant for Tic-Tacs, minty devices he kept at the ready for when, apparently without delay or restraint, he started kissing beautiful women, to whom he’s attracted “like a magnet.” When you’re a star, he said, “You can do anything…Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”


In 2015, the New England Patriots (also referred to in one headline as the “Deflatriots”) were accused of intentionally deflating, or under inflating, 12 footballs used during their AFC Championship Game, in which they soundly walloped the Indianapolis Colts. The Pats went on to win Super Bowl XLIX two weeks later. A months-long investigation found the Patriots guilty and star quarterback Tom Brady “aware” of the scheme. The team was fined $1 million and forced to surrender two draft picks. Despite repeated appeals, Brady was suspended four games.


Speaking of balls, healthy engorgement, and Super Bowls! Nipplegate tumbled out in 2004 during one of the NFL’s most evocative Super Bowl halftime shows. Surrounded by a gleaming sun disk, the nipple in question, belonging to Janet Jackson, was fleetingly liberated from its black latex bondage when Justin Timberlake rounded off his hit song “Rock Your Body.” Singing the lyric, “Bet I’ll have you naked by the end of this song,” Timberlake unlocked a panel of Janet’s dominatrix armor, thereby unleashing Janet’s right breast.


Pizzagate slid out of the oven in 2016 during the presidential campaign as an instance of Fake News—what has quickly become both a dangerous reality and a catchphrase by which to describe it. Unless you’re the Don Corleone of pizza parlors (say, Papa Don’s), you don’t expect to receive death threats. After the owner of D.C. pizza joint Comet Ping Pong started receiving hundreds of threats to “kill you personally,” he knew something was horribly wrong. In a fever of delusion, dozens of fake news stories had been posted claiming Hilary Clinton used Comet Ping Pong’s back rooms to traffic children. Of course, these claims lacked any semblance of credibility. 


British Prime Minster Theresa May slipped on Trousergate in 2016 when she was photographed for an interview wearing $1,250 “60%-dark-chocolate brown” leather trousers. She was quickly criticized by a former education secretary for being out of touch with “pork pie” middle-class Britons (to whom May refers as “Jams”). The education secretary was soon after disinvited to a private function with the Prime Minister.


In 2003 the San Francisco Police Department was embroiled in Fajitagate. Here’s the story:

One evening, three police officers were out celebrating, and drinking was part of the festivities. Having partied until closing time, the officers were standing outside the entrance to the bar, when two men leaving a nearby bar approached. The drunken, off-duty cops ordered the men to relinquish their fajita-filled takeout bag. The men refused and fajita fisticuffs ensued.  The three officers were charged with assault, but were eventually acquitted. Nevertheless, the scandal chargrilled the SFPD for some time.


Apparently, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, has a thing for tugging ponytails. In 2015 an Auckland waitress wrote an incredibly detailed anonymous post describing Key’s proclivity for pulling her ponytail whenever he visited the cafe she worked at. He once told her, “that’s a very tantalizing ponytail.” One op-ed surmises this immature behavior might be a sign of psychological regression, where a stressful situation triggers childlike behavior. Whatever, Prime Minister, it’s tugging weird.


You knew there had to be one. Indeed. This stinker dumped out in 2004 when a driver of one of the Dave Matthew’s Band tour buses unloaded 800 pounds of human feculence from the bus septic tank into the Chicago River. This reeked mayhem: horrifyingly, a group of unsuspecting tourists on a riverboat architecture tour were drenched in the deuce. In 2015 a white foamboard plaque was left at the exact spot on Kinzie Street Bridge where the drop off took place. In tasteful block letters, the plaque reads: “In August 2004, at this very location, a DMB tour bus dumped 800 pounds of poo on some people. #neverforget  #alwaysremember.”

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