11 Juiciest Scandals of All Time

These naughty individuals help to lay bare the American psyche: what we condone, what we punish, where we draw the line and why

In her book How to Become a Scandal: Adventures in Bad Behavior author Laura Kipnis delves into some of the most compelling downfall sagas of the past two decades. Flip through this slideshow to see who made the list…


Laura Kipnis, a professor in the department of Radio/TV/Film at Northwestern University, is the author of How to Become a Scandal: Adventures in Bad Behavior. She has contributed to Slate, Harper’s The Nation, and The New York Times Magazine.

11 Responses so far.

  1. avatar central coast cabin home says:

    Wow oh wow! As I viewed each one of them, I gutturally & silently proclaimed to myself; “pig, killer, disgusting pig”, etc, etc. Then I looked again because I really like Bill Clinton. So then I looked again thinking perhaps I could forgive another one, perhaps. What I decided is that we are all possible of the greatest and the absolute worst our incredible mind can imagine. It is what we are. Why would any of these people have done what they did if they were truly happy in life? OJ was capable of what he did at a very early age. What do we know about what happened to any of them? Should they be held accountable, you bet, however, they are just like us like it or not. Fame, fortune…what a ruse, what deception, what a life.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      I disagree. It is NOT what we all are. What we are all capable of, perhaps, but not what we all are.

      • avatar central coast cabin home says:

        I stand as corrected. In my late night rant I was struggling to make the point that they are terribly flawed as human beings and that none of their fame or fortune alleviates their actions against others. I am all-in with the false sense of value and hyped up noble significance we place upon the rich and famous. Thanks Baby, I always enjoy your posts.

  2. avatar Lila says:

    Woody Allen’s marriage to Soon-Yi may not LEGALLY be incestuous, but I think it’s still incest, not to mention a horrible double betrayal of his partner Mia Farrow. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s his biological son, Ronan Farrow:

    “He’s my father married to my sister. That makes me his son and his brother-in-law. That is such a moral transgression. I cannot see him. I cannot have a relationship with my father and be morally consistent… I lived with all these adopted children, so they are my family. To say Soon-Yi was not my sister is an insult to all adopted children.”

  3. avatar Lila says:

    What bugged me about Bill Clinton was his habit of lying about minor misconduct when asked. I would have respected him so much more had he simply said, “Sure, I smoked pot in college, lots of kids did. But I haven’t done it since.” Or: “OK, so I like women. Now this is between me and my wife, so I’m not answering any more questions about it.” Or even better: “Does anyone have any serious questions about political, economic, or security issues?”

    Maybe the real scandal is less about Clinton’s dalliances and more about how a bunch of hypocrites try to use his foibles – the very same as their own – to try to remove the elected President from office. Impeachment is intended for serious crimes, not playing with the interns and then fibbing about it.

  4. avatar D C says:

    Condit – “The role of hair in scandals….”

    We need to be watching Rick Perry — he’s know ’round these parts as Governor Good-Hair

  5. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    Double homicide and adultery are both mortal sins accordng to the Catholic Church but…as I am a lapsed Catholic I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that in my opinion double homicide is something God is only big enough to forgive whereas adultery is forgiveable if not forgettable and by and large is no ones business but those in the mix of things.

    By and large.  Of course everone knew or should have known after the *I’ve made mistakes in my marriage* 60 minutes interview that Clinton was a horn dog and that Hillary was his enabler. (just as Elizabeth Edwards was her husband’s enabler).  Its their business.  Sadly, he chose to lie in testimony in a civil rights lawsuit and in a federal investigation and ask others to do the same.  Which was why he was impeached.  Of course we were told then by every prominent legal authority that perjury is a crime that is never prosecuted.  Scooter Libby would beg to differ.  Its true Scooter didn’t lie about sex…he was convicted of not remembering word for word his conversation with Chris Matthews about Valerie Plame after the prosecutor knew he was not the leak and that Richard Armitage was.   

    I have not seen a Woody Allen movie since the scandal.  Sorry…cannot stomach a man doing his mistresses’ daughter.  But his pedophilic tendencies should have been apparent since Manhattan. 

    I’m having a hard time having sympathy for most of Madoff’s  investos who knew or should have known that the returns were bogus. 

    As for the gratuitous crack about Rick Perry’s hair… time  will tell.    



  6. avatar Holly Gallagher says:

    I really miss the good old days, when, if you did something awful, you kept your mouth SHUT. Why these people feel they must share their most awful behaviors is beyond me. I hate to quote my Mother but, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, shut up”.

  7. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Of all the scandals listed, the one that still – to this day angers me the most is John Edwards. I believe in Heaven and Hell and as I have said before, there is a special section in Hell waiting for this man’s soul.

    He had a wife who he knew was dying from cancer. Was grieving the loss of a son. And yet he cheated on her. And not only cheated on her, but lied to her face about it. And not only did he cheat but he got his mistress pregnant and then lied in interviews about it. Dismissing his relationship with her. Then he talked his close friend and campaign organizer into lying to the media and public by way of saying he and not Edwards himself had impregnated his mistress. Potentially putting this guys own marriage, career and reputation at harm. 

    AND because of his desire for the ultimate power RAN FOR PRESIDENT knowing he was having an affair. The millions and millions of people who heard him speak, respected his passion to make a change and supported him where also lied to and cheated on. He duped wealthy and poor donors alike into giving him money which he then turned around and gave to his mistress and his campaign organizer to live in luxury on as they waited out her pregnacy and ultimate birth. All the while lying to his wife, insisting he had not done anything wrong.

    And when the evidence became so glaringly apparent he had lied, and he had no choice but to confess his wrong doing, he begrudgingly admitted he was the father of the child. And now following Elizabeth’s death from Cancer he is reportedly still with his mistress.

    THAT to me is evil personified. How does anyone forgive someone so lacking in morals or values? How does anyone trust a man like this in the business world? How can anyone live next door to him and on a sunny Summer’s day, wave across the lawn and say “Hi neighbor!” to someone so morally corrupt? How do you have sex with this man and trust that he is not cheating on you….lying to you?

    May God forgive me but I hope he has something happen in his life that humbles him to his core. Breaks him emotionally and physically. He should have to endure the pain that Elizabeth did. It just doesn’t seem fair that he should be allowed to ride off into the sunset with his mistress and bastard child and enjoy a happy life.        

    • avatar Arie says:

      Wow! I did not know that Mr. Edwards had a wife dying with cancer and that they were grieving the loss of a son. Usually when a good man takes a vow of singular devotion to his wife, then, that man should love and nurture his wife with all his loving heart. Then she dies with all this being revieled to her while he lies in her face. I am glad he did not become pres.. Now she died and is probably in heaven and looking down on him with confusion. Where is the supposed ethical standards commity?

  8. avatar Arie says:

    I am going to check the box on the followup comments via e-mail. I am learning how to use this site. This is for my last comment on10/31/2011 at 8:22 am. Maybe someone would like to correspond.