Why do scandals end with “The Gate”?

The names Nixon, Princess Diana or Boris Johnson are associated with this “spoiled” defamatory. Contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with the English word.

A botched burglary 50 years ago at the Watergate-based Democratic Party headquarters made history the name of this luxury Washington building, now associated with political, sports or art scandals. This case, revealed by the Washington Post, resulted in the 1974 resignation of President Richard Nixon and the adoption of the suffix. “spoiled” by the American and international press.

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The following year, bribes United Brands paid to the president of Honduras to cut export taxes on fruit became tantamount to “Bananagate”. The expression spread over time. In the 1990s, during Democrat Bill Clinton’s dual mandate, Republicans doubled down on controversies such as Troopergate or Travelgate, after firing several people responsible for organizing press trips to the White House.

The term has since escaped from the political world, with “Nipplegate”Janet Jackson’s nipple, in spite of herself, appeared live on television midway through the first half of the 2004 Superbowl. It is linked to one of the most exciting scandals in the NFL, “empty”a practice of deflating balls for better throwing, which tarnished the image of legendary player Tom Brady.

The portal has been exported abroad

France was among the first to use the infamous suffix since 1973, with an extension of Wingatea major fraud case that rocked the vineyards of Bordeaux. “Angolagate”The scandal of illegal arms sales to the Luanda government in 1994 provoked many French political figures. In 2017, former Prime Minister Francois Fillon saw his presidential candidacy weighed down by a fictitious work case involving his wife, Penelope, in a scandal dubbed “Penelopegate”.

In Italy , “Rubjit”a sordid affair of the liberal parties organized by Silvio Berlusconi with occasional young girls, replaced by the suffix “Opolis”chosen for the giant Tangentopoli anti-corruption operation in the 1990s, or the Calciopoli sports scandal in professional football.

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In 1992, the British newspaper “The Sun” launched the scandal “Squidgygate”which is the nickname of a close friend of Princess Diana by publishing the contents of phone conversations leaving little room for doubt about their romance.

In recent weeks, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has survived a motion of no confidence in his party inundated by scandals such as “Party Gate”Those partying very drunk in Downing Street during strict anti-Covid confinement.

expression does not take

But sometimes the expression does not take. In the United States, the issue of illegal arms sales to Iran by the Ronald Reagan administration to fund the rebellion of opponents of the socialist government in Nicaragua has been dubbed Irangate or Contragat. But it went down in history as The Iran-Contra Affair.

Bill Clinton narrowly avoided Richard Nixon’s fate due to his romance with young intern Monica Lewinsky, but he was not related to anyone. “Monica’s Gate”. For Meryl Perlman, the former sub-editor of the New York Times, there was an aversion in the press at the time to adding the suffix to each scandal. And she adds, “Language is fickle”. “Monica’s Gate term doesn’t roll very well in the mouth. It’s three syllables.”She told AFP.

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Face Donald Trump Russiagatedoubts about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, and then in “Ukrainegate”when he was accused of blackmailing Kyiv for providing information against Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. But the expressions fell into oblivion, erased by many other controversies surrounding the billionaire Republican.

swell “spoiled” In the world press the scale of the original scandal in American politics has also weakened, as Merrill Perlman believes. According to her, the term “She’s already lost a lot of her political influence (like) the presidential infamy part, because of Nipplegate and Deflategate”.

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