Every year has its share of news sensations that have either taken up too much air time or shone the spotlight on someone who didn’t deserve the attention. For 2015, McClatchy has rounded up the year’s most divisive stories.
1. Kim Davis
The Kentucky county clerk caused a national firestorm in the United States. Her claim to fame? Refusing to do her job. Despite the legalization of gay marriage across the US in June, Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. A folk hero to the far right, Davis did time in jail, cried a bunch on live television, and received a lot of somewhat invasive hugs from Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee.
2. Llamas on the Lam
In 1994, Americans were glued to their TVs as police chased OJ Simpson’s white Bronco down a California freeway. In 2015, the Internet was transfixed by a pair of llamas that escaped from a retirement community near Phoenix, Arizona. All major US news networks dropped everything to cut to live footage of police trying to corral the runaway animals.
3. The Dress
In the cold month of February, a viral video kept Americans busy debating the color of a single striped dress. Some said white and gold. Others saw blue and black. At last, the designer confirmed that the garment in question was, in fact, blue and black, allowing everyone to get on with their lives.
4. Mom of the Year
As riots broke out in Baltimore in April, the media zeroed in on one woman: Toya Graham. During coverage of the events, cameras captured Graham teaching her 16-year-old son some harsh lessons about respecting authority after she caught him throwing rocks at city police.
5. Clock Boy
Fourteen-year-old Ahmed Mohamed never asked to be thrown into the spotlight. But when he was arrested for bringing a clock to school that his teachers thought resembled a bomb, he became a symbol of Islamophobia in America. In a better world, Mohamed never would have been arrested, but the incident landed him a meeting with President Obama and a full scholarship to the Doha Academy in Qatar.
6. Cecil the Lion
In a year with plenty newsworthy villains, few earned the same degree of ire as Walter Palmer, a Minnesota dentist who shot a protected lion in Zimbabwe over the summer. Cecil was reportedly lured from Hwange National Park, where he was being monitored by scientists at Oxford University. Palmer maintains he did nothing illegal, but his dentistry business suffered a devastating blow when Internet users took to Yelp to flood the page with 1-star reviews.
7. The Weasel and the Woodpecker
This weasel flying on a woodpecker remains my fav pic of the 2015. And I love that it happened in Hornchurch pic.twitter.com/bWQokGb9TH— Adam Penford (@AdamPenford) 21 декабря 2015 г.
An amateur photographer in Essex, England found viral gold when he snapped a photo of a small rodent riding shotgun atop a woodpecker – midflight. According to the photographer, the weasel had attacked the bird, which took off in panic. The rodent was, one can imagine, terrified.
8. Pharma Bro
Perhaps the only man more hated than Walter Palmer in 2015 was Martin Shkrelli, the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. After buying the rights to a life-saving AIDS drug known as Daraprim, Shkrelli hiked the price from $13.50 per pill to $750. Thankfully, the year’s most hated man also provided the year’s most satisfying instance of schadenfreude, when he was arrested earlier this month for securities fraud.
No year could pass without some controversy earning the moniker of “-gate.” In 2015, it was Starbucks, which drew outrage from the far right after unveiling – red holiday cups. For some, the lack of the phrase “Merry Christmas” on the cups was the latest sign of America’s “War on Christmas.”
10. Donald "The Donald" Trump
If there’s one collective hope we can all share for 2016 it’s that the real estate tycoon will become permanently lost in one of the many labyrinthine eyesores he calls hotels. The Republican presidential hopeful has dominated the national spotlight for his inflammatory remarks about women, Hispanics, African Americans, Muslims, veterans, Jews, the disabled, Iowa, and Rosie O’Donnell. Hopefully 2016 will be the year we finally lose our collective obsession with the orange imbecile, but given that he’s still the leading Republican party (and we do mean “party”!) candidate, that seems unlikely.