It is very important that celebrities be held accountable for wrongdoing so that we can laugh at them. They do their level best to hide the truth with bribes, bodyguards, and also a general expectation of human privacy. But sometimes events line up just right, and the strangest circumstances lead to their weirdest shenanigans becoming known. Remember when ...
In 1970, Billy Murray was a student at Regis College in Denver. He was studying pre-med, gaining invaluable experience for his eventual role as Dr. Peter Venkman, and one weekend in September, he returned home to Chicago to celebrate turning 20. His birthday itself was Monday, and on that day, he caught a flight back to Denver. Inside his suitcase were 10 pounds of marijuana divided into five two-pound bricks. It was a Billy Murray birthday party; we're surprised that was enough.
He was able to get the stuff past airport security without much trouble, since airport security was more or less nonexistent in those days. But then, soon before he boarded, he told a passenger that he had "two bombs" in his suitcase. Either that was '70s slang for cannabis blocks, or just a very confusing joke. Regardless, ticket agents overheard, took it literally, and searched his luggage. His arrest made the front page of the newspaper.
He was convicted but got away with only probation, because he was Bill Murray. Obviously, he wasn't a rich celebrity yet; I'm saying he still got off because he was Bill Murray. Even if no one yet knew what that meant, they knew it must be. He did have to drop out of college as a result, however. Instead of pursuing medicine, he moved back to Chicago and joined Second City. And that's Bill Murray's superhero origin story.
NBC's To Catch A Predator brought Chris Hansen a level of fame most reporters don't even dream of. The show, part of Dateline, consisted of just 12 segments aired over the course of three years. And yet all of us today can easily picture Hansen sitting men down to interrogate them about preying on children (or occasionally cats). More than a decade after the show ended, we can still mention his name -- as though invoking a saint -- to label any situation as creepy.
To Catch A Predator rubbed some viewers the wrong way, however. Maybe it was the possibility that that the show, and the vigilante group they worked with, lured people into traps rather than intervening in real crimes. Maybe it was that journalists were collaborating with police, a group they should remain independent from to objectively report on. Maybe it was how courts ended up acquitting men because of the show's unethical tactics. Or maybe it was the time one would-be predator, a Texas ADA, decided not to go through with it, so NBC brought the cops to his home. He killed himself as cameras rolled. NBC aired this. That was the final To Catch A Predator segment.
Some thought Chris Hansen needed to be taken down a peg. And so in 2006, National Enquirer decided they were going to run a hidden camera sting of their own, and this time, he'd be the one caught red-handed. They tailed him to a restaurant and filmed him on a date with a woman who wasn't his wife. Then they filmed the couple returning to her apartment and not leaving until the next morning. The paramour was 20 years younger than Hansen, as tabloids keenly emphasized to help push the "predator" angle.
The immediate consequences of this were ... well, there weren't any. The evidence was too flimsy, and as hilarious as it was to connect this to Hansen's stings, an affair is nowhere near as bad as what that show went after. But the tabloids kept at it, and when a different paper eventually captured photos of Hansen kissing the woman (who happened to be a reporter for a different network), NBC declined to renew his contract. Her network fired her as well. No official reasons were made public, but it's generally accepted that Hansen had violated NBC's morals clause. That makes sense. We all know how uncompromising NBC is when it comes to their staff's sexual propriety.
The only people who stand to gain by outing athletes for doping are those rooting against them. That would generally be their opponents, but also whoever pays them when they win. Take the situation Lance Armstrong was in back in 2004. The U.S. Postal Service Team (don't laugh, that's really what it was called) promised him a $10 million bonus if he won five straight Tour de France titles. To pay this hypothetical sum, they took out an insurance policy. This is called "hole-in-one insurance," and is standard for huge sports performance-based bonuses.
Armstrong won that fifth title, and suddenly a tiny Dallas company called SCA Promotions was on the hook for a huge payout. They'd lost a $10 million bet ... unless they could prove Armstrong wasn't really entitled to his winnings after all. So SCA embarked on a tour de Lance, investigating the cyclist until they had enough evidence to claim he was cheating. The highlight of their file was testimony from a former captain of the U.S. Postal Service Team who'd heard Armstrong admit to doping back in 1996. Once they put it all together, the team ... still demanded that SCA pay, and the company gave in and did so.
But the team did agree to reduce the demands to $7.5 million, which sounded like admitting there was something fishy about Armstrong's performance. Then the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency started their own case against Armstrong, using SCA's as a foundation. That of course ended with him stripped of all titles and forever disgraced, and he even had to pay SCA their $7.5 million back -- plus a further $2.5 million for having the ball to lie to them. So the stingy insurance company that didn't want to pay won after all. Truly an ending right out of a fairy tale.
Before he was synonymous with trash TV, Jerry Springer was a politician. He served as mayor of Cincinnati after a bunch of inexplicably impressive roles, including campaign advisor to Robert F. Kennedy. His one major hiccup came in 1974. The Cincinnati vice squad raided a local massage parlor, because the law frowns on massaging one particular part of a man's body. Inside they found a canceled check from one Jerry Springer, who was at the time serving on the city council.
"I didn't have the ten bucks in cash," he'd later say, and though sources would refer to this as him joking, that had to be the actual explanation, right? Not a very good explanation, sure, but there wasn't any other reason for him to use a personal check to pay for a rum tum tugger. Thanks to the scandal, he had to resign from the city council. Yet he ran again a couple years after that, and got so many votes that they made him mayor as well.
A later run for governor didn't go so great after he addressed the old massage kerfuffle in a campaign ad. "Nine years ago I spent time with a woman I shouldn't have," he said. "And I paid her with a check. I wish I hadn't done that." He wanted to face the old shame head-on to counter some rumors about it -- the check, contrary to what his opponents claimed, had not bounced. The really happy ending for him would have been if he'd then ascended to even greater political heights, but that didn't happen. When he was considering a Senate run in the 2000s, the massage story again counted against him. Not because he'd paid for sex; voters were just disappointed that he'd left a paper trail.
Last year's college admissions scandal only broke thanks to a Los Angeles man named Morrie Tobin. He went hard into a career in finance, where he made money by talking investors into buying a stock he secretly owned, then selling his shares at the inflated price. This crime is so common that it has its own name -- the "pump and dump scheme" -- though it is not even in the top five most horrifying crimes that could conceivably be called that.
The SEC caught Tobin and asked him to come clean in exchange for leniency. He liked this idea so much that in the hopes of getting more of this leniency, he offered information about a totally different crime he'd stumbled into. Tobin had enrolled three daughters at Yale, and when a fourth was having trouble getting in, a coach there offered to recruit her to their soccer team in exchange for a six-figure bribe. This was not even close to being an SEC matter, but they went ahead and passed the tip on to the FBI.
Investigators got Tobin to meet with the coach in a hotel room, where they installed hidden cameras. The coach talked about getting the next of Tobin's ongoing payments, and when the feds swept in and interrogated him, he pointed to a bigger fish: bribery mastermind Rick Singer. The case grew from there. It eventually nailed Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman, and 50 other wealthy parents who weren't sitcom stars. But Tobin wasn't charged for bribery, and he got off easy on the pumping and dumping too. He'd been very helpful, and we're all indebted to this corrupt parent for getting himself caught by being corrupt in an additional, unrelated way.
For more, check out 3 Terrible Peyton Manning Scandals No One Talks About - Cracked Responds:
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