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Tuesday, 07 July 2015

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Show gate the door

It’s a popular misconception that the Eskimos have 50 different words for snow. But what is certainly true is that when it comes to describing a scandal – even one that isn’t particularly scandalous – the national media have only one word for it.

And it’s immensely irritating.

As soon as something controversial or potentially damaging happens, they resort to the suffix -gate. So we’ve had the likes of Irangate, Iraqgate, Camillagate, Squidgygate, and most recently expensesgate and climategate.

The origin of these clumsy and unimaginative terms was of course the Watergate scandal in 1972, when burglars broke into the Democratic Party’s Watergate headquarters in Washington. The burglars were linked to the Republican Party leadership and President Nixon was forced to resign.

But no other -gate has led to the downfall of the world’s most powerful political leader.

Sachsgate forced Russell Brand to resign and Flakegate damaged Anthea Turner’s career. That’s hardly a national scandal, or a great shame.

This unending use of -gate is supposed to excite readers but has the opposite effect.

It is the facts that make news exciting – not -gate on the end of a word. It’s time we showed -gate the door.


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