This year, it seemed like there was no end to scandals. Be it a white person being the head of an NAACP chapter or a hoagie-eating child-abuser, 2015 was one for the books (or was it? our attention spans these days are so short that 2014 could’ve been the worst year on record and no one would have any kind of notion).
But which were the ten biggest scandals, the 10 most shocking events on these past 365 (ish) days? Well, we’re here to tell you that. We’re also here, mainly, to make you think: “Oh, yeah! I forgot that that happened!” and also: “Oh my God, that was only this year?” Some of the things on this list have so completely permeated popular culture that it’s unimaginable that on New Year’s you had never even imagined them to be possible.
Let us together relive the past and just for a moment indulge in the nostalgia of another year gone by. If these scandals are already starting to feel a little dated, imagine what will happen in 2020 when you stumble across this list (hint: it’d feel much like remembering Katy Perry showing Elmo too much cleavage, Heidi Montag getting all her surgery, and the Salahis crashing the White House).
You ready for some fun? Let’s take a 10 stop tour through 2015’s biggest scandals.
10 Rachel Dolezal Turns Out To Be White
Rachel Dolezal, head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, is a fierce advocate for the equality and civil rights of black Americans. The only problem? Despite her artificially tan skin and her floppy afro, home girl is white as a toilet.
In an interview with the Spokane local news, Rachel Dolezal discussed hate crimes against African Americans in the United States. She went on and on for about eight minutes until the subject of her father came up. The interviewer showed her a picture and said, surprised, “Is that your dad?” Dolezal said: “I don’t know what you’re implying…”
When the interviewer asked her: “Are you African American?” After scrambling for her words for a while, Dolezal left from the interview. On the Today Show, Dolezal later admitted that she “identifies as black”, sparking a whole debate over whether people can actually feel they belong to a separate race.
9 Tom Brady Deflates His Career
Every year, ESPN polls the NFL’s players on a variety of topics. One recurring question is which player the men respect the most. In January 2014, Tom Brady was obviously one of the top picks. He was a reliable quarterback for one of the League’s best teams. As the husband of a supermodel, a father of two, and a fashion icon, he was also beloved by the populace at large.
But then, early this year, Tom Brady and the Patriots were accused of depressurizing footballs to make them easier to grip in their game against the Indianapolis Colts. The scandal was nicknamed “Deflategate”. Although the jury is still out on whether Tom Brady was involved or not, we all know it was one of this year’s biggest hooplas.
8 Ariana Grande Loves Donuts; Hates America
In summer of this year, Ariana Grande went to a donut shop with a few of her friends to pick out something sweet to eat. As they were fussing over the large selection, they didn’t realize they were being filmed by a security camera. The man behind the counter had presumably gone to take care of some business in the kitchen, leaving them out of sight.
They took this opportunity to lick and nibble at the donuts on top of the shop’s encased display. When the shop worker returned with a giant, overfull tray of doughy delights, Ariana Grande exclaimed: “What the f***? I hate America! I hate America!” It’s pretty clear that she meant: “I hate that such unhealthy foods are so readily available here”, but it could easily be misconstrued.
7 Bill Cosby Is Abusive
Best known for playing Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show, Bill Cosby was the surrogate father of a generation of kids raised by television. He was funny, friendly, and, most importantly, totally non-threatening. That was until this very year, 2015, when many sexual assault allegations were leveled at the septuagenarian funnyman.
As woman after woman came out saying that the comedian had abused her, the scandal crescendoed. His lucrative reputation as a father figure was ruined, with several networks yanking reruns of his long-running sitcom. SNL leaned into him in its typical ruthless fashion on its 40th Anniversary Special reprisal of Celebrity Jeopardy. This is one scandal Cosby can’t recover from.
6 The Fall of Jared Fogle
2015 was a bad year for Subway’s Jared Fogle, the guy who lost all the weight by eating sandwiches. The FBI raided his home in search of illegal material involving children, which he then later plead guilty to having. Then in October, one-time Florida journalist Rochelle Herman-Walrond released the tapes she had caught of Jared Fogle discussion his predilection for children.
After hearing him make an off-putting remark, Herman-Walrond began to engage with the sandwich spokesman. She encouraged him to discuss what he’d done so that she could take it to the FBI. What a creep!
5 Brian Williams Lies On Air
Brian Williams, the former anchor of the NBC Nightly News, is no longer the most popular news reporter in America. In 2015 he dropped from the country’s 23rd to the 835th most trusted public figure, according to the The New York Times. The reason? He lied about his experiences as a reporter, the people we trust to give us the ugliest of truths.
He said that the NBC helicopter that had carried him in Iraq was forced down by a rocket propelled grenade, his cockamamie tale worthy only of an Indiana Jones movie. In reality, Williams arrived on the site of that event in a later aircraft. When the soldiers who had been there heard him re-telling the story for the hundredth time, they finally approached the media for a bit of clarification.
4 Bruce Becomes Caitlyn
“Call Me Caitlyn” is perhaps the most iconic Vanity Fair cover so far this decade. It shows the step-father of the Kardashian clan and the biological father of the Jenner clan wearing a satin romper with flowing tresses, killer makeup, and, most noticeably, womanly breasts.
After a protracted period of speculation (people had been making “Bruce Jenner is totally a chick” predictions for a long time, already) the freshly minted Caitlyn Jenner came forth to prove them all right. This entry is not as properly “scandalous” as all the other ones, because it doesn’t involve deception, dishonesty, or malice. But the cultural impact it had makes it an unavoidable entry on any recap of the biggest bombshells of 2015.
3 Charlie Sheen Has HIV
On November 17th of this year, Charlie Sheen went on the “Today” Show to admit the Matt Lauer that he’s infected with HIV. Although it’s still alarming, Sheen is actually “positive, undectectable” meaning there’s an almost imperceptible amount of the virus in his blood. However, he’s still infected. Although Denise Richards and their children together are out of the ominous timeframe (they divorced in ’06 and Sheen was infected in ’11), he has had unprotected coitus with many partners since.
As reported by TMZ on the day of his admission, six women “lawyered up” in their cases against Sheen for emotional distress, fraud, and sexual battery. Apparently, they forsook protection and Sheen still didn’t tell them that he had the virus. TMZ predicts more of the same trouble.
2 Donald Trump: “I am officially running for President!”
Earlier this article, we discussed events that have gotten such an unbelievable amount of publicity that it’s unimaginable they only happened this year. We meant, specifically, Caitlyn Jenner coming out and, especially, Donald Trump running for President. Has a day gone by since that speech in the middle of June that someone hasn’t talked to you about Donald Trump’s candidacy? Be you in America, Canada, or even Guatemala, everyone is talking about the mogul’s bid for Commander in Chief.
Why? Because he’s leading in the polls by making statements like: “We must temporarily bar all muslims from entering the country.” As his claims have become more ludicrous, Donald Trump’s bid has grown increasingly farcical, but his numbers are good, joining forces as a potent cocktail of scandal.
1 The View Trashes Nurses
In the Miss America competition of 2015, Miss Colorado (Kelley Johnson) performed a monologue about her duties as a nurse. She wore scrubs and a stethoscope around her neck. The women of The View found this a little silly and mocked the performance on their show.
Michelle Collins said she “basically just read her emails out loud.” Joy Behar, adorable airhead that she is, asked: “Why does she have a doctor’s stethoscope around her neck?” This sparked a revenge-of-the-nurses in the form of a hashtag, #NursesUnite, and a Facebook group called “Show Me Your Stethoscope”. The View then had a bunch of nurses come on the show as an apology to all the women and men they had slighted.