Journalists add “-gate” to the name of a scandal. It’s a quick nickname which allows the audience to know what’s being discussed, without having to go through all the details.
Why the word “gate”? It all links back to the “Watergate” Scandal in the 1970s.
In 1972, a break-in occurred at the offices of a Democratic party, at the Watergate complex. The burglars were trying to bug the offices of the party running against the President.
Then President of the USA, Richard Nixon (a Republican; against the Democrats) made a speech, saying he knew nothing about the burglary. He was re-elected, winning by a landslide.
Two journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, uncovered the fact that Nixon had lied to the people of America. He had known about the burglary and tried to cover it up. His team was also responsible for other illegal activities whilst attempting to get Nixon re-elected. After two years Nixon eventually resigned; the first President in history to do so.
This became known as the “Watergate” scandal. A New York Times columnist then started adding “-gate” to other famous scandals, and the phrase stuck.
1992. A transcript of a sexually explicit phone call between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles was released. The phone call was made back in 1989, when Prince Charles was still married to Princess Diana. One has been very naughty indeed.
2008. Comedian Russell Brand and presenter Jonathan Ross left obscene messages on the answer phone of 83-year-old actor Andrew Sachs. Not only that, but they did this whilst on Brand’s Radio 2 show. In the messages Brand claims to have slept with Sachs’ granddaughter. Did no-body tell him kiss-and-tell is not cool?
Both Brand and the head of Radio 2 resigned from the BBC. The BBC was also fined £150,000 by Watchdog organisation Ofcom. That’s one expensive voicemail.
2012. Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell rowed with police officers outside of Downing Street in London. The Sun ran a story claiming Mitchell had called them “plebs”. Mitchell denied saying this, but the police report said differently. Mitchell eventually resigned. Case closed.
Only it wasn’t. New CCTV footage made people question the police’s version of events. Several details didn’t add up and people wondered if Mitchell had been stitched up by the police. Several officers were eventually fired for misconduct and for giving details to the press. Andrew Mitchell then sued The Sun and the Police officer for libel. Big mistake; the judge concluded that he had used the word “pleb” and Mitchell had to payout £80,000. Ouch.
Case… confused. By this point the word “plebgate” had gone viral.
We live in a world run by technology so it’s only right that the next big scandal should be “Emailgate”.
Hillary Clinton got into trouble earlier this year when it came out that she used a personal email address during her time as Secretary of State. She should have used an official State Department email address. Silly Hillary.
Why is this important? Well, you might not have noticed, but Hillary is running for US President next year and people didn’t like that fact that all her messages from her previous time in office were unavailable. She’s now been ordered to release emails from her personal account.
In the UK, it’s just been reported that emails from Downing Street are automatically deleted. The email system which deletes messages after three months was installed just before the Freedom of Information Act was made law. This act meant that public service workers would have to surrender their email if a Freedom of Information Request was made. Suspicious, no?
The system has been blamed for causing chaos at Number 10. It could also mean incriminating evidence is being deleted; could this be the next emailgate scandal?
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1. When she was 12 years old, young Hillary wrote to NASA asking for information about becoming an astronaut.
She was told the job was for men only.
2. When asked what attracted her to Bill Clinton (who proposed marriage many times before she finally accepted), she is reported to have said, “He wasn’t afraid of me.”
3. As First Lady of the United States, her major initiative, the Clinton health care plan of 1993, failed to gain approval from the U.S. Congress.
4. After the evidence of President Clinton’s affair with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky became incontrovertible, she issued a public statement reaffirming her commitment to their marriage. The public’s response was mixed.
5. On January 26, 1996, Clinton became the first First Lady to be subpoenaed to testify before a Federal grand jury. The Clintons had been accused of partaking in a failed business venture that also included fraud and conspiracy charges. After several Independent Counsels had investigated, a final report was issued in 2000 that stated there was insufficient evidence that either Clinton had engaged in criminal wrongdoing.
6. Clinton strongly supported the 2001 U.S. Military Action in Afghanistan, saying it was a chance to combat terrorism while improving the lives of Afghan women who suffered under the Taliban government.
7. She is the first woman ever to have run for public office, and also the first woman to run not just once (2008) but twice for a Presidential bid.
8. Hillary deals with defeat well, being the only political figure to lose a campaign and then work under their opposition. Hillary was Obama’s Secretary of State between 2009-2013.
9. If Hillary Clinton wins the initial Democratic Presidential bid and indeed wins the 2016 Presidential campaign, she will be the first female President of the United States of America.
10. What do others think? “Polarizing” is a word often associated with Hillary Clinton.
Decoded: Almost all of her views reflect her identification, in this instance it would be that of a Democratic outlook. Well we should hope so given that she is a Democrat.
So here’s to knowing a little bit more than you did five minutes ago, and being fully prepared to learn a lot more over the next year.
We decoded how the Presidential system works in the U.S. with a bright and beautiful infographic, see here.