2014 could be accurately dubbed the year of the scandal, or perhaps the year that technology created scandals. TMZ usurped The New York Times as the top source for breaking news. Thanks to the proliferation of cell phone and surveillance cameras, nearly every moment of every celebrity’s life was recorded. It was virtually impossible for anyone to sweep anything under the rug. Social media magnified the impact of every blog post and leaked photograph. Politicians, athletes and actors all found themselves in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Here are seven scandals that will still be remembered in 2015.
Hackers Post Nude Photos of (Almost) Every Single Celebrity on Earth
For years, nude photos of attractive female celebrities have popped up on the internet. Most claimed that the pictures were fakes and the pictures were soon forgotten. In September, a group of unscrupulous hackers decided to violate the privacy of seemingly every actress in Hollywood by releasing nude photos of dozens of celebrities. Soon, the internet was flooded with X-rated pics of celebrities including Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney and supermodel Kate Upton. Lawrence boldly admitted that the photos were real, explaining that the photos were intended to be for her boyfriend’s eye only. She took the stance that while she felt violated, she had done nothing wrong. Other actresses followed suit. The FBI launched an investigation, but as yet nobody has been arrested. The lingering question is whether there is anyone in Hollywood who does not take nude photos of themselves.
Jay Z and Solange’s Fight in an Elevator Is the One Unchoreographed Moment of Beyoncé’s Life
Everything about Beyoncé is glamorous, so it was appropriate that her most scandalous moment of 2014 took place at a black tie affair. Last May, an elevator security camera caught Beyoncé’s sister, Solange, kicking and hitting her husband Jay Z as the trio departed the Met Gala. TMZ got its hands on it and the footage quickly went viral. It was one of the few times that the public caught a glimpse of Queen Bey that she did not orchestrate. Rumors quickly spread that a drunken Solange attacked Jay Z because he was cheating on her sister. But Beyoncé controls her image better than any other celebrity. Within days, the trio issued a statement claiming that Solange and Jay Z “assume their share of responsibility for what has occurred,” and were a happy family. Over the next few weeks, Beyoncé and Jay Z made carefully choreographed public appearances at which they appeared to be as happy as ever. Beyoncé also was photographed with Solange, showing that there was no bad blood between the sisters. By the time, Beyoncé and Jay Z attended Solange’s November wedding, the elevator fight was all but forgotten. If she ever gets tired of being a singer, Beyoncé could become an Olivia Pope-style crisis manager.
Ray Rice Caught on Tape Abusing His Wife
Another elevator security camera tape captured a far more serious physical altercation that ignited a controversy about the way the NFL handles domestic violence. It started way back in February when Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice was arrested for violence in Atlantic City. TMZ obtained video of him dragging his unconscious fiancé, Janay, out of a casino elevator. He was charged with aggravated assault and accepted into a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders. In July, after an awkward press conference in which he and Janay both apologized for “the situation,” Rice was suspended for just two games. In September, TMZ posted complete footage of what happened inside the elevator. It showed him punching her in the face and standing over her unconscious body. It was now impossible to downplay the severity of what happened. After a public outcry, the Ravens released Rice from the team. The NFL unconvincingly claimed it never saw the complete video and suspended Rice indefinitely. Rice appealed the NFL’s decision, citing the league’s double jeopardy clause. On November 28, an arbitrator agreed with his stance and reinstated him into the league. Recently, Rice and Janay were interviewed by Matt Lauer on Today. Both insisted that, other than the elevator incident, their relationship was not abusive and implicitly made the case that Rice deserves a spot on an NFL roster. Odds are good that this scandal will still be in the news in 2015.
Donald Sterling’s Mistress Outs Him as a Racist
Basketball was every bit as scandalous as football in 2014. On April 25, Donald Sterling, the octogenarian owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, was exposed as a racist, an adulterer and an all-around nasty piece of work when his 20-something mistress V. Stiviano gave TMZ an audiotape of him making offensive remarks. Sterling was, among other things, angry that she brought black people to Clippers games. The fact that Stiviano herself is half-black did not seem to bother him. The reaction was fast and furious. During a playoff game, Clippers players tossed their warm-up jackets to the ground. Sponsors dropped the team. On April 29, the NBA suspended Sterling indefinitely, fined him 2.5 million dollars, and announced that it would force him to sell the team. Sterling’s attempts to defend himself only made him look worse, as he told CNN that he thought Magic Johnson was a bad role model because he had AIDS. V. Stiviano proved to be a world class gold digger; Sterling bought her two Bentleys and a condo. She gave a bizarre interview to Barbara Walters in which she referred to herself as “a silly rabbit” and claimed that she was not Sterling’s mistress but his “right arm.” His estranged wife, Shelley, alleged that he was suffering from dementia. Medical experts deemed Sterling “mentally incapacitated” and granted her sole trusteeship of the team. She promptly sold the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for two billion dollars. The NBA breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Bill Cosby Allegedly Sexually Assaulted Numerous Women
To Generation X, Bill Cosby was the perfect father. To Baby Boomers, he was a trailblazing African-American comedian. He donated millions of dollars to universities and positioned himself as an elder statesmen offering up advice to younger generations. Way back in 2006 when several women alleged that he had sexually assaulted them years ago, it generated a few headlines but quickly faded from the news after Cosby settled a lawsuit with his accusers. It was as if everyone in America made a silent pact to forget about it. The selective amnesia ended this fall when comedian Hannibal Buress referenced the allegations during a performance, encouraging his audience to google “Bill Cosby rapist.” Philadelphia magazine posted the clip on its website. It went viral. Over a dozen women came forward, claiming that in the 1960s and 1970s Cosby drugged and assaulted them. Several filed new lawsuits. He denied the allegations, but this time his damage control proved ineffective. NBC canceled plans to create a new sit-com for him. TV Land pulled repeats of The Cosby Show from its line-up. He resigned as a trustee of Temple University. While it will be virtually impossible to prove or disprove the allegations, his image is forever tarnished.
Reverend Camden Turns Out to Be a Pervert
Stephen Collins was a journeyman actor, best known for his portrayal of Reverend Camden on the long-running, extraordinarily cheesy, family drama Seventh Heaven. Since the end of the show, he worked steadily as a guest star on television shows. He got unwanted publicity when TMZ (again!) posted audio tape of a couples’ therapy session in which he confessed to molesting a teenage girl. Soon, numerous women came forward to claim that Collins had molested them when they were teens. Like a B-list version of the Cosby scandal, the incidents had all happened decades ago making them difficult to prove. Seventh Heaven reruns were pulled from cable and Collins was fired from what would have been an all-too apt guest starring role on the show Scandal. This ugly story got even uglier when it was revealed that Collins was in the process of divorcing his wife. She taped the therapy session without his knowledge or consent. Collins claimed someone from her team leaked it to the media in order to gain a better settlement. It’s safe to say that Collins proved there is such a thing as bad publicity.
The Secret Service Act More Like the Keystone Cops
The Secret Service used to be one of the most respected branches of law enforcement. This year, numerous scandals had everyone questioning their competence. In March, three agents on the president’s detail were caught drunk in Amsterdam the day before President Obama arrived to attend a summit. A few days later, news broke that two Secret Servicemen got into an alcohol-related car accident in Florida. In late September, the Secret Service failed to prevent a man from jumping the White House fence. He made it all the way to the White House East Room before an off-duty agent tackled him. One day later it was revealed that an armed security contractor with a felony conviction rode an elevator with the president. On October 1, Julia Pierson, director of the Secret Service, took the fall for the agency’s terrible year and resigned.