Close This “Gate” For Good


Phil Loadholt Phil Loadholt #71 of the Minnesota Vikings checks on teammate Brett Favre #4  after he was hit by Remi Ayodele #92 of the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

OK.  I understand we live in an age where news is being instantaneously reported and ambitious media outlets are constantly searching to create the next witty, easy-to-say catch phrase which describes a potentially budding scandal.  I get it.

The part I don’t get is why all potential scandals – political, sports-related and elsewhere in today’s culture – are now forever linked to a Washington D.C. riverside hotel and office building.    

As we all know, the Watergate scandal was a political scandal during the 1970’s resulting from the June 1972 discovery of a break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington D.C., with the cover-up of the break-in actually being far more condemning than the crime itself.  This led to years of investigations and Congressional hearings, culminating with dozens of convictions and the only resignation by a sitting President of the United States.  It was a rather large blemish on America and even tainted democracy as a whole during a turbulent era.

With the national media always searching for the next big scandal to make a name for themselves, adding “gate” to the end of any word seems to be the flavor of the decade to grab headlines and get talking heads to do what they do best – talk.

A few examples during the past 10 years:

— In 2003, the Valerie Plame affair – which was originally referred to as “Spygate” and later changed to “Plamegate” – involved the alleged public identification of Valerie Plame Wilson as a covert Central Intelligence Agency officer by the Bush Administration in retaliation to actions taken by Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joesph Wilson;

— The 2007 Formula One espionage controversy, also known as “Spygate” and later referred to as “Stepneygate” involves allegations that the McLaren Formula One team was passed confidential technical information from the Ferrari team, and that the Renault F1 team was passed confidential technical information from the McLaren team.  All of this led to record-setting fines and suspensions handed down by Formula One;

— The 2007 New England Patriots videotaping controversy, widely dubbed “Spygate”, refers to an incident during the 2007 NFL season when the New England Patriots were disciplined by the NFL for videotaping New York Jets’ defensive coaches’ signals during a September 9, 2007 game from a sideline location, an act deemed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to be in violation of league rules.  Record-setting fines were levied against the team and its’ Head Coach, Bill Belichick, and the team was docked a first round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft;

— The 2010 New York Jets were fined $100,000 after it was discovered that a “sideline wall” was formed by inactive players by Jets Strength and Conditioning Coach Sal Alosi during punt returns.  The practice came to light when Alosi tripped Miami’s Nolan Carroll with his knee in Week 14. The league ruled it was dangerous and a competitive advantage and Alosi later resigned from the Jets organization.  Very creatively, this scandal was coined as “Tripgate”;

— In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice came under scrutiny by Congress and the national media, triggered by an audit of U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) conference planning and food and beverage costs by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).  The report alleged that many of the conference’s refreshment costs were exceedingly high, including one conference serving $16.00 muffins.  Surprisingly enough, this scandal is referred to as “Muffingate”;

— This past weekend, the NFL announced that it has been investigating the New Orleans Saints – and more specifically, former Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams – since the 2010 season for the team illegally condoning bounties being awarded to Saints defensive players for game-changing hits on opposing players.  This is now being referred to as “Bountygate”.

I mean… isn’t this getting old?  Do people think creatively anymore?  At least “Spygate” had a ring to it; it was catchy to say, it involved cameras, espionage and one of the more polarizing (and successful) faces of the NFL in Bill Belichick.  Maybe that’s why there were three “Spygate” scandals before the actual “Spygate” we all know about today.  “Spygate” works.   But “Muffingate” and “Bountygate”?  Are you kidding me?

An open request to all media outlets who are considering using the word “gate” to describe some sort of scandal:  Please don’t.  Instead, buy yourself a thesaurus, get creative and maybe try out some alliteration next time.  How does “The Bounty Bullies from the Bayou” or “Merciless Mercenaries” sound?  Those two gems took me about 12 seconds to come up with.

Or, better yet, throw a spellbinding headline out there like “Does this $16 muffin come with jelly or jam?”

Seriously, though… anything is better than “Muffingate”.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America


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4 Responses to “Close This “Gate” For Good”

  1. thabutcha Says:

    Just found this on… Egg-gate? How about Gate-gate? The newest controversy over calling every controversy a something-gate?

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