The Most Outrageous U.S. Government Scandals, Mapped Out in One Amazing Chart


Where do the current scandals facing the White House, the fallout from the Benghazi attacks, the IRS scrutiny of Tea Party groups, the Justice Department's seizure of the phone records of Associated Press journalists, rate on the all time list of scandalous, outrageous things that the U.S. government has done? Are Benghazi and the actions of the IRS really worse than Watergate? What about Fast and Furious?

Want to know whether your favorite scandal really makes the cut? Is it bigger than Big Foot, more terrible than a Tyrannosaurus Rex, juicier than a really juicy orange? Well thankfully Dave Gilson of Mother Jones has created the handy "Ultimate White House Scandal Matrix," organizing more than 25 government scandals according to "their relative seriousness and their place in our current collective memory."

Image credit: Mother Jones

Unsurprisingly, Watergate, the scandal that has lent its name to all scandals that have followed, takes the top spot. All it was missing, Gilson points out, was sex. It is closely followed by the Iran-Contra affair, the release of the Pentagon Papers, and the Bush government lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Bring up the rear are Billygate, when it was revealed that President Jimmy Carter's brother took money from the Libyan government, and the Andrew Jackson adultery scandal, when he was attacked 40 years later for marrying his wife before her divorce from her first husband had been finalized. See here for more detail on the scandals included in the matrix.

Gilson says he has not included the current scandals "since it's not yet clear where they fall on the continuum between, say, Billygate and Iran-Contra." So where do you think they should fit in to this matrix? What do you think is the most scandalous of scandals? Let me know in the comments below.

I for one think that what is missing from this matrix and the whole focus on scandals are the ongoing nefarious things that the U.S. government is doing, from the seemingly ever-expanding and never-ending war on terror (despite what Obama just said) and the suspension of due process, to the Obama administration's aggressive pursuit of whistleblowers and the unparalleled increase in its surveillance of Americans.

But unfortunately these day-to-day abuses of power just do not seem to catch the public imagination in the same way as a good old juicy scandal.