- Controversies hit every facet of news between 2010 and 2019, and many of them, it seems, have become permanently embedded in our culture.
- Among them are the college admissions scandal, the robbery Ryan Lochte faked during the 2016 Olympic games, and Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries’ 72-day wedding.
- More grave controversies include the child sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky and Jeffrey Epstein, as well as Anthony Weiner’s repeated sexting scandals.
- Here are the 39 most controversial events from the last ten years.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
From politics to sports and entertainment, the 2010s have been filled with controversies that continue to endure.
The same decade that brought us innocuous events like Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries’ 72-day wedding and the New England Patriots’ “Deflategate” also brought us more grave incidents, including Jeffery Epstein being accused of molesting dozens of young girls and Jerry Sandusky’s conviction for molesting young boys.
In the years in between, Ryan Lochte faked a robbery in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Harvey Weinstein and dozens of other Hollywood men were accused of sexual misconduct, and video emerged of now-President Donald Trump bragging that he could grab women “by the p—-.”
Meanwhile, Anthony Weiner faced numerous sexting scandals, and even served a prison sentence after pursuing an online relationship with a teenage girl.
No facet of news was without controversy this decade – FIFA was bombarded with corruption allegations, Hillary Clinton faced outrage over her use of personal emails, Logan Paul was, well, Logan Paul, and the Fyre Fest’s scandal was so bad that the name’s now an adjective for bad scams.
Here’s Insider’s list of the 39 most controversial events of the last decade, and what happened after the news broke.
2011: Anthony Weiner accidentally posted a photo of his crotch on Twitter, launching the first of many social media-fuelled scandals he would face.
What happened: On May 27, 2011, a photo appeared on then-Congressman Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account showing the bulging crotch of a man wearing underwear. Weiner initially claimed his Twitter account had been hacked, but he later admitted that the photo was his.
The aftermath: Weiner admitted to engaging in inappropriate online relationships with several women he met on the internet, and he said the photo he posted to Twitter was accidental. He announced that he would be staying with his wife, Huma Abedin, and resigned from Congress. The scandal was just the tip of the iceberg for Weiner.
2011: Former US Senator John Edwards was accused of spending nearly $US1 million to keep his mistress in hiding during his 2008 presidential campaign.
What happened: On June 3, 2011, Former US Senator John Edwards was indicted on charges connected to illegal campaign contributions. Investigators said he had received more than $US900,000 during his 2008 presidential campaign to hide his then-mistress Rielle Hunter, and their child, from the public. Edwards conducted the affair while his wife Elizabeth fought breast cancer.
In January 2010, Edwards came clean about his relationship with Rielle and admitted he had fathered a daughter with her.
“It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter, and, hopefully, one day, when she understands, she will forgive me,” he said in a statement at the time.
In December of 2010, Elizabeth Edwards succumbed to the disease.
The aftermath: Edwards was acquitted on one count and a mistrial had been declared on the other charges. Edwards has maintained his innocence. He continued to have a relationship with Hunter until 2015.
2011: Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries got married. Then they got divorced 72 days later.
What happened: On August 20, 2011, Kim Kardashian and New Jersey Nets player Kris Humphries got married in a $US10 million televised wedding after a whirlwind romance. They divorced just 72 days later.
The aftermath: People thought that the couple had faked their romance for publicity. Humphries later said the relationship was “100% real.” There were rumours that Kris and Kim swapped partners with Kanye and his then-girlfriend Amber Rose.
2011: Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid was closed after 168-years following phone-hacking allegations.
What happened: In July 2011, allegations emerged claiming reporters from Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World had hacked missing teenager Milly Dowler’s phone in 2002 and deleted messages to free space. The incident led Milly’s parents to believe she was still alive. News of the World had previously been accused of hacking other phones.
The aftermath: Murdoch soon announced that News of the World was shutting down, and issued a full apology for the hacking scandal. Several News of the World employees went to trial, and its former editor, Andy Coulson, was found guilty of conspiracy to hack phones. The paper continues to pay out settlements to people whose phones were tapped during the period.
2011: Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was accused of molesting young boys.
What happened: On November 5, 2011, former Penn State defensive coordinator Gerald “Jerry” Sandusky was arrested on child sex abuse charges after 10 men accused him of sexually abusing them as boys.
The aftermath: Sandusky was found guilty of 45 out of 48 counts of sexual abuse in 2012. He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison. In February 2019, he was ordered a new sentence by a Pennsylvania appeals court, but the sentencing has yet to happen.
Popular Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno reportedly had heard about Sandusky’s behaviour years before and was criticised by prosecutors for not doing enough to stop him. Paterno had his contract terminated in 2011, despite the protestations of students. He died the next year.
2012: The Benghazi attacks on a US diplomatic compound sparked a political firestorm.
What happened: On September 11, 2012, a diplomatic compound and a nearby CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, were attacked. Four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, died. Republicans then accused the Obama administration of covering up what happened, though no such allegations were ever proved in investigations.
The aftermath: While investigating the incident, the House Select Committee on Benghazi found the first evidence of Hillary Clinton using private email services for governmental business. It became a major talking point for Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.
2012: David Petraeus resigned as director of the CIA after admitting to having an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.
What happened: In November 2012, David Petraeus resigned as director of the CIA after admitting to having an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. He was also accused of sharing personal notebooks that contained confidential information with her. He denied this at first, but later pleaded guilty to misdemeanour charges of mishandling classified material.
The aftermath: Petraeus pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour charge of mishandling classified materials in April 2015. He was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $US100,000 fine.
2013: Lance Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs.
What happened: After a decade of denying allegations that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs, Lance Armstrong admitted to Oprah that he used EPO, or erythropoietin, in February 2013. Erythropoietin is naturally produced by the kidneys, but athletes use it to raise their red blood cell counts to improve recovery and endurance.
The aftermath: Armstrong was forced to pay more than $US20 million in lawsuits, including a $US10 million fraud dispute with promotions company SCA. Thousands of people tossed out their Livestrong bracelets.
2013: Video emerged showing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine.
The aftermath: Ford initially denied the reports, but he admitted to smoking crack cocaine on November 5, 2013, saying it happened a year earlier in one of his “drunken stupors.” He remained mayor until November 2014. He died in 2016.
Source: City News Toronto
2013: Edward Snowden leaked thousands of documents he stole from the National Security Agency.
What happened: In June 2013, Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the CIA, leaked thousands of secret documents he stole from the National Security Agency.
The aftermath: The Guardian was the first publication to leak the documents, and in the years since, journalists have released more than 7,000 top-secret documents the Snowden leaked. Snowden, meanwhile, is living in Russia.
Source: Business Insider
2013: TV cooking personality Paula Deen was recorded calling her black employees the N-word.
What happened: While being deposed on June 19, 2013, for a lawsuit brought against her by Lisa Jackson, the former general manager of her Savannah, Georgia restaurant, Paula Deen admitted to using the N-word. Jackson also claimed in the lawsuit that Deen wanted her African American employees to act like “slaves.”
The aftermath: Deen apologised for the incident and briefly stepped out of public life. Two years later, she posted a photo of her son in apparent brown face. In 2019 she started making the publicity rounds again as she promoted a new book.
2013: New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez was arrested on murder charges in the death of Odin Lloyd.
What happened: New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez was arrested on June 26, 2013, on murder charges, a week after the body of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating his girlfriend’s sister, was found a mile from his home in North Attleborough, Massachusetts.
The aftermath: Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder in Lloyd’s death in April 2015. In April 2017, he was acquitted on murder charges of the 2012 deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. Days later, on April 19, 2017, he died in a prison cell from an apparent suicide.
Source: Sports Illustrated
2013: Anthony Weiner’s New York mayoral campaign was derailed by more sexting allegations.
What happened: In the midst of Anthony Weiner’s New York mayoral campaign and redemption tour in July 2013, screenshots of an explicit conversation between Weiner and a 22-year-old woman surfaced on a gossip website. Weiner confirmed that he sent the messages.
The aftermath: The scandal damaged Weiner’s mayoral campaign and in September 2013, he ultimately came in fifth in the Democratic primary. A documentary about the campaign, titled “Weiner,” was released in 2016.
Source: Business Insider
2014: Footage emerged of Solange Knowles hitting her brother-in-law Jay-Z in an elevator at a Met Gala after party.
What happened: On May 12, 2014, TMZ published footage of Solange Knowles punching her brother-in-law, Jay-Z, in a hotel elevator at a Met Gala after-party, while Beyoncé stood between them. The internet spent years trying to figure out what happened.
The aftermath: In August 2017, Jay-Z spoke out about the incident for the first time. He said: “We had one disagreement ever. Before and after we’ve been cool.” He also referenced the indecent in “Kill Jay-Z,” off the album “4:44,” saying: “You egged Solange on / Knowin’ all along, all you had to say you was wrong / You almost went Eric Benét / Let the baddest girl in the world get away.”
2014: Hackers stole nude photos and information from iClouds belonging to Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and 200 others.
What happened: Hackers stole nude photos from iClouds belonging to Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, and 200 other people on August 31, 2014. The photos appeared on 4chan.
The aftermath: Five people were charged in the 2014 “celebgate scandal.” Prosecutors said the group hacked email accounts by answering security questions and gained access using phishing emails.
2014: Allegations of Bill Cosby sexually assaulting women began to emerge after comedian Hannibal Buress did a bit about Cosby ‘raping women’ in a stand-up routine.
What happened: Comedian Hannibal Buress did an extended bit about rape allegations against Bill Cosby in a stand-up routine in Philadelphia on October 16, 2014. The bit went viral, and inspired dozens of women to come forward with sexual assault allegations against Cosby.
The aftermath: By the end of 2015, more than 50 women had accused Cosby of sexual assault, going back to 1965. In 2018, Cosby was convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in his Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, home in 2004. Cosby started a 10-year prison sentence in September 2018, at 81 years old.
2015: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was suspended after ‘Deflategate.’
What happened: Hours after the AFC championship on January 18, 2015, journalist Bob Kravitz reported that the NFL was opening an investigation into whether or not the New England Patriots had used intentionally deflated balls to beat the Indianapolis Colts.
The aftermath: The NFL determined that 11 out of 12 balls had been under-inflated during the game. Investigator Ted Wells, who had been hired on behalf of the NFL, concluded that a Patriots employee had likely deflated balls, and Tom Brady was “at least generally aware” it happened. Brady was suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2015 season.
Source: Sports Illustrated
2015: Hillary Clinton released 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department amid concern she used a personal email server while serving as secretary of state.
What happened: In March 2015, The New York Times reported that Hillary Clinton used a personal email server to send government information during her tenure as secretary of state. The next day, Clinton turned over 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department and asked them to be made public.
The aftermath: In July 2016, then-FBI director James Comey said he would not recommend charges against Clinton, but called her actions “extremely careless.” After further review of the emails, Comey again said in November 2016 that Clinton would not face criminal charges.
2015: Dozens of FIFA executives and officials were implicated in a years-long corruption investigation into the organisation.
What happened: In May 2015, the US government arrested 14 executives and officials from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) on charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering in a corruption investigation that alleged hundreds of millions of dollars had been used in bribes and kickbacks within the organisation. Those initially arrested included Rafael Esquivel, Nicolas Leoz, Jeffrey Webb, Jack Warner, Eduardo Li, Eugenio Figueredo, and Jose Maria Marin. The US went on to indict an additional two dozen people, including FIFA executive Chuck Blazer.
The aftermath: About half of those indicted pleaded guilty, and about a dozen remain out of the reach of American authorities.
2015: Ashley Madison, America’s most prominent dating site for cheating spouses, was hacked.
What happened: In August 2015, hackers who objected Ashley Madison’s business model stole millions of users’ private information, including names, photos, credit card information, and sexually explicit chat logs.
The aftermath: CEO Noel Biderman stepped down from company weeks after the hack, but the website continued its operations. The site still has millions of users. Conservative activist Josh Duggar, of the TLC family show “19 and Counting,” was revealed to have an account on the site.
2015: Martin Shkreli raised the cost of the anti-malaria drug Daraprim from $US13.50 to $US750. Then he was arrested on fraud charges.
What happened: In September 2015, Turing Pharmaceuticals founder and former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli raised the price of essential drug Daraprim from $US13:50 to $US750, becoming the most hated man on the internet overnight. Three months later in December, he was charged with defrauding his investors out of millions of dollars.
The aftermath: In April 2018, Shkreli was sentenced to 7 years in prison for fraud.
2016: Hulk Hogan sued the media website Gawker for posting his sex tape — and won.
What happened: Former WWE wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, filed two lawsuits against media company Gawker in March and May of 2016. Three years earlier, Gawker had posted an edited version of a 2006 sex tape featuring Hogan and Heather Helm, the then-wife of a former friend.
The aftermath: In a trial that ended in March 2017, Hogan was awarded $US140 million from Gawker Media and its founder Nick Denton. He eventually settled for $US31 million, and Gawker settled for bankruptcy. Toward the end of the trial, it was revealed that Hogan had been bankrolled by tech investor Peter Thiel. Thiel had a personal grudge against Gawker because they publicly outed him in 2007.
2016: The Panama Papers leak revealed a network of thousands of off-shore holding companies worth more than a billion dollars.
What happened: In April 2016, 11.5 million encrypted confidential documents, known as the Panama Papers, belonging to the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, were leaked. The information revealed a network of thousands of off-shore holding companies worth more than a billion dollars.
The aftermath: The Panama Papers exposed the massive offshore finance industry and helped recover more than $US1.2 billion from around the world. In 2019, director Steven Soderbergh released a fictionalized account of the revelation, called “The Laundromat.”
2016: More than a dozen women accused Fox News chairman Roger Ailes of sexual misconduct.
What happened:Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox head Roger Ailes on July 6, 2016, launching an onslaught of allegations from other women, including Megan Kelly, Kellie Boyle, and Marsha Callahan.
The aftermath: Ailes resigned on July 22, 2016, with a $US40 million severance package. He died in May 2017. In 2017, it was revealed that Fox News host Bill O’Reilly had previously settled five sexual harassment lawsuits worth more than $US13 million. O’Reilly’s contract with Fox was terminated later that year.
2016: 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte lied about being robbed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro
What happened: Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte sparked international concern after claiming he and three other US Olympic swimmers had been robbed at gunpoint at a gas station on August 14, 2016, during a night out during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Then security footage of the night surfaced, revealing Lochte had made the whole story up after he and the other swimmers vandalised the gas station’s bathroom and paid for the damage on the spot.
The aftermath: Lochte later apologised, saying the incident was a misunderstanding. Swimmer Jimmy Feigen made a $US10,800 donation to charity in Brazil following the incident. Eventually, all of the swimmers were cleared of criminal charges. Lochte was suspended from USA swimming competitions for 10 months.
2016: A recording of Donald Trump saying he could grab women ‘by the p—-‘ leaked a month before the presidential election. He still won.
What happened: On October 7, 2016, a month before the 2016 presidential election, the Washington Post published a recording from a 2005 “Access Hollywood” hot mic clip. In the clip, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump was heard telling Billy Bush about being a famous man around women: “They let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the p—-.”
The aftermath: Trump called the comment “locker room talk,” and went on to win the presidential election, almost unscathed. Bush was let go from the “Today Show.”
2016: Anthony Weiner sexted a 15-year-old girl and later served prison time for it.
What happened: In September 2016 – a month after Huma Abedin announced she was separating from Anthony Weiner –DailyMail.com published an interview with a 15-year-old girl who said she had a sexually explicit online relationship with Weiner at the beginning of 2016. Weiner acknowledged the texts.
The aftermath: In May 2017, Weiner pleaded guilty to one count of transferring obscene material to a minor. He told the court: “I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse.” Abedin then announced she was divorcing Weiner. Weiner was sentenced to 21 months in prison in September 2017. He was released after serving 18 months.
2016: Hundreds of women accused Former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar of molesting them as children.
What happened: In November 2016, former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was indicted on charges of sexual assault of a child. More than 350 girls and young women have since said that Nassar had molested them, usually under the guise of medical treatment.
The aftermath: In January 2018, Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for his crimes.
Source: The New York Times
2017: Fyre Fest organisers duped thousands of people into going to a music festival that didn’t exist.
What happened: In April 2017, thousands of people spent hundreds of dollars for tickets to Fyre Festival, a supposed luxury music festival in the Bahamas launched by Ja-Rule and Billy McFarland that was meant for influencers. The festival, however, did not exist and festival-goers were left stranded on an island for hours, with little food, limited tents, and rain-soaked mattresses.
The aftermath: The disastrous weekend spawned several lawsuits against Fyre Fest’s organisers, two major documentaries, and will go down as one of the biggest scams of the 2010s. McFarland is now serving a six-year prison sentence for fraud related to another case.
2017: After facing decades of sexual abuse allegations, R. Kelly was accused of holding six women in his homes as part of a ‘sex cult.’
What happened: On July 17, 2019, BuzzFeed published a lengthy and detailed report accusing R. Kelly of holding six women at his homes as part of a “sex cult.”
The aftermath: The report prompted further investigations into Kelly. Several women came forward with allegations, and a documentary detailing the allegations aired in 2019. Kelly was then charged with sex trafficking. In October 2019, it was revealed that R. Kelly would remain in jail until his trial, which is set for May 2020.
2017: Sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein unleashed a movement against sexual misconduct in Hollywood and beyond. It was called #MeToo.
What happened: In October 2017, The New York Times published a story detailing decades of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Actors Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd were among his first public accusers. Days after allegations surfaced, the MeToo hashtag movement, inspired by activist Tarana Burke, circulated on Twitter after Alyssa Milano encouraged people to share their stories of sexual harassment.
2017: YouTuber Logan Paul posted a video in Japan’s ’Suicide Forest,’ launching international criticism.
What happened: On December 31, 2017, YouTuber Logan Paul uploaded a vlog to his channel of Aokigahara, at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. Aokigahara is more commonly known as “Suicide Forest” – a place where people go to die by suicide. His video depicted an apparent suicide victim hanging from a tree.
The aftermath: Paul faced international backlash for the video, with brands ending their deals with him, YouTube cutting his advertising privileges, and more than 750,000 people signing petitions calling for him to be banned from YouTube. He made a comeback weeks later.
2018: Reports emerge that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels $US130,000 to stay silent about their alleged affair.
What happened: On January 12, 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported that President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid porn actress Stormy Daniels $US130,000 ahead of the 2016 presidential election so she would stay silent about their alleged 2006 affair.
The aftermath: Trump confirmed he paid Cohen the money that Cohen then gave to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. He has continued to deny the affair.
2018: Data-analysis firm Cambridge Analytica was accused of using and keeping data of 50 million Facebook users without their permission.
What happened: In March 2018, it was revealed that data-analysis firm Cambridge Analytica obtained information on 50 million Facebook users through a third-party app called “thisisyourdigitallife,” created by a researcher at Cambridge University. The company held on to the data and used it without peoples’ permission, and worked for the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
The aftermath: Facebook was hit with a $US5 billion fine from the Federal Trade Commission as part of a 2019 settlement over claims the company mishandled user data. Additionally, regulations regarding data were imposed on Facebook.
2018: The Senate Intelligence Committee determined that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election.
What happened: In July 2018, the Senate Intelligence Committee determined that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election, launching a months-long investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The aftermath: More than a dozen Russian nationals were indicted after investigators said they meddled in the 2016 election. Mueller finished his investigation in 2019. Attorney General William Barr decided not to charge individuals associated with the Trump campaign.
2019: Khloe Kardashian’s boyfriend, Tristan Thompson, cheated on her with Kylie Jenner’s best friend, Jordyn Woods.
What happened: In a scandal that rocked the entertainment world, reports emerged in February 2019 that known-cheater Tristan Thompson, cheated on his longtime girlfriend and daughter’s mother, Khloe Kardashian, with her sister Kylie Jenner’s best friend, Jordyn Woods.
The aftermath: Khloe and Tristan broke up after TMZ reported that Thompson hooked up with Woods at an after-party at his house. Jordyn later said she and Tristan only shared a quick kiss. Khloe and Thompson are no longer together.
2019: More than 50 people were indicted as part of a massive college admissions scandal.
What happened: In March 2019, federal prosecutors indicted 50 people in a massive college admissions scandal, a scheme in which prosecutors say parents – including actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin – paid thousands of dollars to get their children into elite schools like the University of Southern California, Stanford, and Yale. Court documents reviewed by Insider say the scheme involved bribing college athletic coaches to recruit students regardless of their athletic ability, and bribing entrance exam administrators to falsify ACT and SAT answers. More indictments have been carried out since the original indictment was unsealed.
The aftermath: The scandal’s investigation is ongoing. About a dozen parents, including Felicity Huffman, have pleaded guilty. Huffman served two weeks in prison for her role in the scheme.
2019: Jeffrey Epstein was charged with sex trafficking following allegations of molesting dozens of young girls.
What happened: Financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, 66, was arrested on sex-trafficking charges on July 8, 2019. In the indictment, prosecutors allege that Epstein molested girls as young as 14 in a sex-trafficking operation that ran from at least 2002 to 2005, with dozens of girls victimized. Epstein pleaded not guilty. Allegations against Epstein had circulated for years, with more than 60 women saying he sexually abused them as young girls.
Source: Business Insider
2019: President Donald Trump was accused of withholding military aid from Ukraine unless they announced an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. The Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry.
What happened: House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump in September 2019. They’re investigating whether or not Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine on the condition that the country’s top officials investigated former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Much of the inquiry is focused on a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The aftermath: An impeachment inquiry is ongoing. Trump has said there was no quid-pro-quo agreement between himself and Zelensky.
Source: Business Insider
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