Ever wondered why all scams and scandals usually end with the ‘gate’ suffix? Well, there’s a complete story to it, which is considered as one of the worst developments in US political history. If you are curious to know the meaning of ‘gate’ suffix, here’s a quick look at the scandal that started it all.
The Watergate scandal
One of the most infamous political scandals in the United States, the Watergate scandal relates to the break-in of the Watergate Office Building in Washington D.C., which houses the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. It was not a normal break-in, as the people involved in the act were linked to the then US president Richard Nixon.
It was found that the break-in was part of a larger conspiracy to spy on the affairs of the Democratic National Committee. The break-in itself was meant to illegally access campaign documents and probably to install listening devices in the office telephones. The five people involved in the break-in were arrested shortly and the cash with them was found to be linked to the Nixon re-election campaign committee.
The Watergate scandal took the US political world by storm, as the Nixon administration was unwilling to cooperate with the ongoing investigations and was trying to muzzle people’s voices. However, after a Supreme Court ruling, Nixon was forced to hand over the Oval Office tapes to the investigators. The tapes clearly revealed that Nixon had attempted to cover-up the break-in and was using federal officials to misdirect the investigation.
With evidence clearly showing Nixon’s involvement, the impeachment process was sanctioned against him for various violations such as contempt of Congress, abuse of power and obstruction of justice. However, before the impeachment could begin, Nixon tendered his resignation on August 09, 1974. Nixon is the only president in US history who has resigned from office.
Emergence of Watergate metonymy
As the Watergate scandal was hugely publicized in the media, it came to be known as the worst of what a scandal can be. Involvement of the country’s top leadership and officials prompted the media to tag Watergate as a benchmark for scandals. In the following years, the suffix ‘gate’ started being used to describe and name other scandals in a mocking way. It allowed media news reports to easily communicate to the reader what the story is all about.
After the US, the use of ‘gate’ suffix to describe scams and scandals spread across most parts of the world. This led to the emergence of the Watergate metonymy, which continues to be used extensively even today.