List of scandals with "-gate" suffix

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This is a list of scandals or controversies whose names in scholarly sources include a "-gate" suffix, by analogy with the Watergate scandal.[1] This list also includes controversies that are widely referred to with a "-gate" suffix, but may be referred to by another more common name in scholarly sources (such as New Orleans Saints bounty scandal).

Etymology, usage, and history of -gate[edit]

The suffix -gate derives from the Watergate scandal of the United States in the early 1970s, which resulted in the resignation of U.S. President Richard Nixon. The scandal was named after the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C.; the complex itself was named after the "Water Gate" area where symphony orchestra concerts were staged on the Potomac River between 1935 and 1965.[2]

The suffix is used to embellish a noun or name to suggest the existence of a far-reaching scandal, particularly in politics and government. As a CBC News column noted in 2001, the term may "suggest unethical behaviour and a cover-up".[3] The same usage has spread into languages other than English; examples of -gate being used to refer to local political scandals have been reported from Argentina, Germany, Korea, Hungary, Greece and the former Yugoslavia.[4] Such usages have been criticised by commentators as clichéd and misleading;[5] James Stanyer comments that "revelations are given the 'gate' suffix to add a thin veil of credibility, following 'Watergate', but most bear no resemblance to the painstaking investigation of that particular piece of presidential corruption."[6] Stanyer links the widespread use of -gate to what the sociologist John Thompson calls "scandal syndrome":

[A] self-reproducing and self-reinforcing process, driven on by competitive and combative struggles in the media and political fields and giving rise to more and more scandals which increasingly become the focus of mediated forms of public debate, marginalizing or displacing other issues and producing on occasion a climate of political crisis which can debilitate or even paralyse a government.[7]

The adoption of -gate to suggest the existence of a scandal was promoted by William Safire, the conservative New York Times columnist and former Nixon administration speechwriter. As early as September 1974 he wrote of "Vietgate", a proposed pardon of the Watergate criminals and Vietnam War draft dodgers.[8] Subsequently he coined numerous -gate terms, including Billygate, Briefingate, Contragate, Deavergate, Debategate, Doublebillingsgate (of which he later said "My best [-gate coinage] was the encapsulation of a minor ... scandal as doublebillingsgate"), Frankiegate, Franklingate, Genschergate, Housegate, Iraqgate, Koreagate, Lancegate, Maggiegate, Nannygate, Raidergate, Scalpgate, Travelgate, Troopergate and Whitewatergate. The New York magazine suggested that his aim in doing so was "rehabilitating Nixon by relentlessly tarring his successors with the same rhetorical brush – diminished guilt by association".[9] Safire himself later admitted to author Eric Alterman that, as Alterman puts it, "psychologically, he may have been seeking to minimize the relative importance of the crimes committed by his former boss with this silliness."[10]


Arts and entertainment[edit]

Name Year Description Reference(s)
Closetgate 2006 The controversy that erupted following the broadcast of the South Park episode "Trapped in the Closet", a satirical parody of the Church of Scientology and some of its famous adherents, such as Tom Cruise. [11]
Flakegate 2000 Photographs of the wedding reception of TV presenter Anthea Turner were used to promote Cadbury's then new Snowflake chocolate bar, bringing scorn from the tabloid press and causing Turner to claim this was not part of the £450,000 by OK! magazine paid her for exclusive access to her wedding. [12]
Gamergate 2014 A controversy within and about video game culture, involving issues of misogyny, harassment and a debate over ethics in video game journalism. [13]
Nipplegate (also known as Boobgate) 2004 Justin Timberlake revealed Janet Jackson's breast during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII. [14] [15]
Portraitgate 2009 Two oil paintings depicting Brian Cowen, Taoiseach of Ireland, in the nude, were briefly displayed in Dublin art galleries in March 2009 as an act of guerilla art. [16][17][18]
Sachsgate 2008 Comedian Russell Brand and TV presenter Jonathan Ross left a series of obscene voice messages on the answering machine of actor Andrew Sachs during an episode of the BBC Radio 2 show, The Russell Brand Show. [19]

Journalism and academics[edit]

Name Year Description Reference(s)
Climategate 2010 Emails that were hacked remotely from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia were publicised by climate change denialists alleging a global warming conspiracy theory: the allegations against climate scientists were subject to eight investigations, which found there was no evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct, though there was a finding of a lack of openness. [20] [21] [22]
Hackgate (also "Rupertgate" or "Murdochgate") 2011 Allegations that the now defunct News of the World had hacked into the phones of celebrities, politicians, members of the British Royal Family, and victims of crime. [23]
Mediagate (also known as "Anchorgate") 2012 The controversy over Pakistani top journalists in the mainstream media. [24] [25] [26] [27]
Rathergate 2004 The scandal over a forged memo about George W. Bush's military record that ultimately led to the resignation of Dan Rather as anchor of the CBS Evening News. [28]
Reutersgate 2006 The controversy over Reuters photographer Adnan Hajj manipulating news photos with Photoshop. [29][30][31]


Name Year Description Reference(s)
Angolagate (also known as Mitterrand-Pasqua affair) 2008 Arms sales to the Government of Angola by the Government of France in the 1993-2000. [32] [33]
Betsygate 2004 Allegations that former United Kingdom Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith had put his wife Betsy on his payroll, without her actually doing any work. [34]
Bigotgate 2010 UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is accidentally recorded calling a party supporter a bigot. [35]
Billygate 1980 U.S. President Jimmy Carter's brother, Billy Carter, legally represented the Libyan government as a foreign agent. [36]
Bingogate 1999 A scandal that occurred during the administration of former Premier of British Columbia Michael Harcourt, involving the skimming of charity funds for use by the ruling NDP by MLA Dave Stupich (Premier Harcourt was not involved but did resign). [37]
Bonusgate 2008 Pennsylvania scandal involving the alleged use of government funds to finance partisan political campaigns.
Bridgegate 2014 Allegations New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's administration ordered lane closures from Fort Lee, New Jersey, to the George Washington Bridge because the Fort Lee mayor did not endorse his reelection. [38]
Brothelgate 2010 The series of events that lead to the resignation of the Irish Minister of Defence Willie O'Dea. [39]
Cablegate 2010 In November 2010, Wikileaks began to release American diplomatic cables, from a trove of over 250,000. [40]
Cashgate 2014 The plundering of Malawian government funds by government officials that occured in 2013. [41]
Camillagate 2005 Following the release of a tape of a telephone conversation between Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles (Duchess of Cornwall since 2005). [42]
Chinagate 1996 United States campaign finance controversy.
Coingate 2005 The mishandling of Ohio government funds entrusted to Ohio Republican Party operatives, involving rare coin funds [43]
Coalgate The mishandling of coal field auctions by the Indian government under the UPA-1. The alleged loss was $37 Billion.
Corngate 2002 A political scandal in New Zealand in 2002, which involved the suspected release of genetically modified corn seed in 2000. [44]
Debategate 1980 A political scandal in the United States involving the suspicious acquisition of debate preparation documents.
Duna-gate 1980 A political scandal in Hungary in 1990, with the communist regime's secret service illegally collecting information on opposition parties. [45][46]
Fallagate 2007 Political scandal in Guernsey over an attempt to avoid a political conflict of interest over a hospital extension plan. [47]
Fajitagate 2002 In November 2002, three off-duty San Francisco police officers allegedly assaulted two civilians over a bag of steak fajitas (which were mistaken as drugs), leading to the retirement of the chief of police and the firing of his successor. [48]
Fangate 2014 In a 2014 Florida gubernatorial election debate Governor Rick Scott did not take the stage for seven minutes after learning that his Democratic opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist, had a small electric fan underneath his lectern, which Scott's campaign and debate organizers stated was against the agreed rules. Scott was subsequently criticized for nearly derailing a debate over a trivial issue. [49]
Filegate 1998 The illegal possession and scrutiny of 300–900 FBI files by the Clinton Administration without the file's subject's permission. [50]
Garglegate 2010 a radio interview given by Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Brian Cowen in September 2010, in which many commentators said he appeared to be suffering from a hangover.
Gategate or plebgate 2012 UK political row, when Andrew Mitchell MP allegedly called a policeman a "pleb", after he was asked to use another gate to leave Downing Street on his bicycle. [51] [52]
Grangegate 2014 A political scandal involvng former New South Wales' Premier Barry O'Farrell and a $3,000 bottle of Penfolds Grange. [53][54]
Gulargate 2013 A political corruption scandal in Azerbaijan involving Member of Parliament Gular Ahmadova. [55]
Hairgate controversy surrounding a haircut given to U.S. President Bill Clinton. [56]
Iraqgate 2003 A Finnish scandal involving the leaking of secret documents to Anneli Jäätteenmäki, which helped bring down Paavo Lipponen's government. Later, it also brought down Jäätteenmäki's government. [57]
Irangate or Contragate (also referred to as the Iran-Contra Affair) 1980s The Reagan Administration sold weapons to Iran and diverted the proceeds to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. [58]
Irisgate 2010 U.K. political scandal involving an affair by Iris Robinson MP MLA, wife of Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson.
Kazakhgate 2005 Scandal surrounding James Giffen, an American businessman and former advisor of Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, who paid US$78 million in bribes to high-level Kazakhstani officials to secure the oil contracts for Western companies in the 1990s. [59]
Koreagate 1976 A U.S. scandal involving South Korean influence peddling in the U.S. Congress. This was the first scandal after Watergate to receive the -gate suffix. [citation needed]
Memogate (2) 2011 Controversy surrounding an alleged Pakistani memo seeking the help of the Obama administration in the wake of the Osama bin Laden raid to prevent a military takeover in Pakistan.
Monicagate, Lewinskygate, Tailgate, or Sexgate ("Zippergate", "the Lewinsky scandal") 1990s Named after Monica Lewinsky who had an "inappropriate relationship" with the then-U.S. President Bill Clinton. [60]
Muldergate 1970s South African political scandal in which funds were clandestinely diverted by defence minister Connie Mulder for overseas propaganda in support of the apartheid regime. The scandal brought about the downfall of BJ Vorster. [61]
Nannygate (1) 1993 A political controversy in the United States wherein the nomination of Zoë Baird and near-nomination of Kimba Wood for U.S. Attorney General were withdrawn due to the hiring of illegal aliens as nannies or the failure to pay taxes for them.
Nannygate (2) 2006 Swedish scandal over the non-payment of employment taxes of nannies and obligatory television fees by members of the Reinfeldt cabinet.
Nkandlagate (1) 2009 South African political scandal brought to light in 2009 by Mail & Guardian newspaper regarding a multimillion state funded private home of South African President Jacob Zuma. The story became more sensitive after the release of the public protector Thuli Madonsela's report titled Secure in comfort. The scandal drove the opposition to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Jacob Zuma. [62]
Noodlegate 2011 Election scandal caused by Yingluck Shinawatra's eating of noodles as a part of campaigning. [63]
Officegate 2001 First Minister of Scotland Henry McLeish resigned after it was revealed that, while a Westminster Member of Parliament between 1987 and 1998 (before the advent of devolution), he sublet his constituency office in Glenrothes, Fife, but failed to ensure that it was registered or that the party issued funds from the income to the House of Commons. [64]
Pardongate 2001 Controversy surrounding Bill Clinton's pardons of 140 people on his last day in office as President of the United States, including Patty Hearst
Pastagate 2013 Montreal controversy, in which an Italian restaurant was investigated by the Quebec government for using words that do not comply with their language laws, such as "bottiglia", "calamari" and "pasta". [65]
Pastygate 2012 Controversy in March/April 2012 around the taxation by the UK Government of hot snacks such as pasties, where Conservative ministers were said to be out of touch with the eating habits of ordinary people. [66][67]
Pemexgate 2000 Scandal involving state-owned oil company Pemex in Mexico in which funds were used to support a political campaign of the presidential candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party.
Petrogate 2008 The name given by the press in Peru to the corruption case involving lots of oil, where Norway mining company Discover Petroleum and Peruvian State owned Perupetro are involved, which shocked the policy in Peru, and prompted the resignation of cabinet ministers.
Piñeragate 1992 Political espionage and eavesdropping involving Sebastián Piñera, later (2010-2013) President of Chile.
Plamegate (also "Leakgate", "CIA leak scandal", "Plame affair") 2005 The revealing, by Robert Novak, of the name of Valerie Plame. Lewis Libby allegedly leaked to the media the identity of a covert CIA agent who worked on WMDs, in retaliation for her husband, Joseph C. Wilson, criticizing George W. Bush's justification for the invasion of Iraq. [68]
Porngate 2012 Three members of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in India resign from their offices after accusations that they watched porn during government proceedings.
Railgate (also known as the Basi-Virk Affair and the BC Legislature Raids scandal) 2007 Scandal and court proceeding involving influence peddling and abuse of privilege in regard to the sale of BC Rail to Canadian National Railways by the government of British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell, the raid of government offices in the provincial legislature building on December 28, 2003. [69]
Rinkagate 1976 U.K. scandal in which Jeremy Thorpe, leader of the UK Liberal Party, lost his position and his seat in Parliament after being accused of involvement in an unsuccessful attempt to murder an alleged former gay lover. Thorpe was eventually acquitted, but the scandal and an unrelated personal illness ended his career. "Rinka" refers to a Great Dane that was killed in the attack. [70]
Robogate 2011 Allegations of whitespread voter fraud occurring during the 2011 Canadian federal election. Robotic and live calls to voters are claimed to have been made in 200 ridings. Investigation by the RCMP, the CPC and Elections Canada. [71]
Rywingate 2004 Polish scandal (including the prominent media mogul Lew Rywin, hence the affair's popular nickname) that led Leszek Miller's government to an end and his party's crushing defeat in the presidential and parliamentary elections in the following year.
Shawinigate 1999 Canadian scandal involving then-Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's profiting from real estate deals in his home riding of Shawinigan, Quebec [72]
Smeargate 2009 U.K. scandal brought to light in April 2009 by the publishing of secret 'smear campaign' plans made by members of the UK Labour government aimed at tarnishing several Conservative MPs careers.
Squidgygate (also known as Dianagate) 2008 Tape of a telephone conversation between Diana, Princess of Wales and a male friend. [73]
Stormontgate 2005 Allegations of a Provisional Irish Republican Army spy ring operating in Stormont (Home to the Northern Ireland Assembly). [74]
Strippergate (Seattle) & Strippergate (San Diego) Two separate government scandals and criminal investigations
Thulegate 1995 Danish scandal regarding the storage of nuclear weapons in Greenland, in contravention of Denmark's nuclear-free policy.
Toallagate 2001 Scandal in Mexico due to the high cost of bathroom towels (around US$400 apiece) bought for the official residence of the Mexican president. [75][76]
Taxigate 2005 The second major scandal to rock the Scottish Parliament after its founding; Scottish Conservative Party leader David McLetchie was found to have claimed an excessive amount in taxi expenses (over £11,000) many of which were for party business rather than parliament business. The debacle resulted in McLetchie's resignation as Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party. [77]
Travelgate 1993 Controversy surrounding firings of White House Travel Office employees at the start of the Clinton administration. [78]
Troopergate (1) 1994 Allegations by two Arkansas state troopers that they arranged sexual liaisons for then-governor Bill Clinton. [79]
Troopergate (2) 2007 Controversy involving New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who allegedly ordered the state police to create special records of senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno's whereabouts when he traveled with police escorts in New York City. [80]
Troopergate (3) 2008 The controversy surrounding allegations that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee for the United States presidential election, fired the state's public safety commissioner, allegedly for not cooperating with her demand that he dismiss her former brother-in-law, a state trooper. [81] Palin uses the term "Taser-gate", a reference to the allegation that the trooper used a taser on his 10-year-old stepson.[82]
Tunagate 1985 Canada political scandal involving large quantities of possibly spoiled tuna that were sold to the public. [83]
Utegate 2009 Australian political incident in June 2009 around the lending of a utility vehicle ("ute") to Australian Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd by car dealer John Grant, and subsequent allegations of improper favorable treatment of Grant by the Treasury department. [84][85]
Valijagate Venezuelan-US entrepreneur Guido Antonini Wilson arrived in Argentina on a private flight hired by Argentine and Venezuelan state officials carrying US$800,000 in cash, which he failed to declare.
Wampumgate 1995 Controversy around the 1995 rejection of an Indian gambling project submitted by three impoverished tribes in the American northlands.
Watergate 1974 The original "gate" scandal got its name from the Watergate Hotel, where two politically motivated burglaries took place in 1972. The Watergate scandal ultimately led to the resignation of U.S. President Richard Nixon on August 9, 1974.
Waterkantgate (also known as Watergate an der Waterkant) 1987 A major political scandal in Germany [86]
Weinergate 2011 U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner's Twitter account linked to an inappropriate photograph. Weiner claimed that his account had been hacked, but later admitted he sent the tweet; numerous other lewd photographs from Weiner were later revealed. In 2013, after he resigned from the House and attempted to return to politics by running for mayor of New York City, it was revealed that he had been involved in another sexting relationship with a woman in her early twenties. [87] [88] [89]
Wormgate 2007 Australian Federal Election Leaders Debate Controversy. A controversial decision was taken during the debate to interrupt the provision of the live transmission signal to the Channel Nine network because of the inclusion by Channel Nine within its broadcast picture of a real time graphical display of the aggregate studio audience reaction to the debate. This graphical display is referred to as the 'Worm', after the form in which it is rendered and an approximately 'worm like' movement of the display within the area of the screen in which it appears.



Header text Header text Header text Header text
Antennagate (also known as Gripgate) 2010 The name Apple founder Steve Jobs gave to the controversy over the iPhone 4's antenna after initial users complained of dropped calls and Consumer Reports would not recommend it. Widely adopted by the technical press. [124][125][126][127][128]
Bendgate 2014 Used to refer to the scenario when iPhone 6 plus bends under pressure. [129][130]
Donglegate (#Donglegate on Twitter.) 2013 A series of events following a double entendre on the word "dongle" overheard at a programmers convention March 17, 2013, which led to two people being fired and a DDoS attack. [131]


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