Lisa Merriam

Branding Scandals: Gruber-Gate and Gate Scandal Naming Since Watergate


Watergate tops most top ten US scandal lists, which may explain the ubiquity of the ___-gate naming meme for scandals. Gruber-gate is only the latest in a long list of scandals with “gate” in the name.

Scandal Naming–The -Gate Construct

The -gate construct for scandal naming got its start shortly after Watergate and Nixon’s impeachment with BillyGate, where President Carter’s beer swilling brother accepted payment from Libya to become their foreign agent. Since then, -gate naming has been in full swing beyond politics into fields as diverse as science with ClimateGate (shout out to Buffalo with historic snowfall levels today), media with news reporting truth problems in RatherGate, sports with the shenanigans of a certain golf player in TigerGate, and entertainment with the wardrobe malfunction known as NippleGate.

The field of politics remains at the top of the flood of gate names, with Bill Clinton, being the top inspiration from TrooperGate to TravelGate to MonicaGate and more. The British are first through the gate, however, with the scandal involving a Member of Parliament insulting a policeman who stopped him from using the wrong gate at 10 Downing Street. While rating rather low on the disgrace meter, GateGate wins by having the best -gate scandal name.