When something terrible happens that hurts or has the potential to hurt people, the best thing is to own up to it immediately so that the fallout can be mitigated as quickly as possible.
Now, that might be the truth (and common sense) but for a lot of people, trying to cover up a huge bungle is just a knee-jerk reaction – and here are times when people definitely should have just owned up to the mistake from the get-go.
1. And it’s still not over.
The water crisis in Flint.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha had been in touch with the Genesee Department of Health for months about Elevated Lead Levels (ELLs), and they went out of their way to obfuscate the data and make it seem like everything was normal. Dr. Hanna-Attisha brings in a research team from Virginia which shows that the ELLs are correlated with zip codes that recently switched water supplies. They still ignore/deny what’s happening. Finally, Dr. Hanna-Attisha says “f**k it”, and holds a press conference telling people that their water is unsafe and to stop using it immediately.
A major public health crisis could have been mitigated if the public health officials spent more time doing their job and less time worrying about whether or not it pisses the governor off
2. Sometimes it’s best to just leave things alone.
i guess the Streisand effect?
for those who don’t know, someone took a photo of Barbara Streisand’s Malibu home and posted it online. The photo didn’t get much attention until Barbara Streisand tried to have the photo blocked for the sake of her privacy.
Upon hearing that Streisand wanted the photo removed, the image became forbidden fruit and was viewed millions of times across the internet.
If she hadn’t tried to cover it up, no one would have looked.
3. As long as there is justice in the world.
Anyone mentioned Joe Michael Singer yet? And his rich daddy trying to use DMCA takedowns to remove images of his son violently assaulting two shop clerks.
Every video that gets taken down, three more spring up.
4. It’s risky business, that’s for sure.
Basically any case involving a d**d about-to-be whistle blower. K**ling someone is a good way to shut a person up. Its also a very good way of drawing attention to the person and what they had to say. The best way to cover something up is discredit the whistle blower.
5. As it should have.
Ex-UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi paid $175k to have the 2011 pepper spray incident removed from Google search results for the university, which brought the incident back into the public eye and was one of the scandals that eventually led to her resignation.
“Recent Polk County, Florida deputies losing (stealing) cash evidence, trying to cover it up, and getting fired.”
7. Definitely unwise.
In 1973 the director of the CIA Richard Helms was worried that the watergate congressional investigations would spill over into investigations into the CIA so he ordered the destruction of all documents related to the MKUltra program.
20,000 documents were incorrectly stored with financial records and were not destroyed. They were later uncovered during an FOIA request and turned over to Congress.
8. Kickstarting a movement.
When EA tried to explain why it takes 6 quadrillion hours to unlock Darth Vader and got downvoted into oblivion.
Errr, that is vastly underselling it. The blowback wasn’t “being downvoted”.
That blowback was that it really kickstarted a movement and global awareness about loot crates, micro-transactions, and targeting minors and people with gambling issues with luck based purchases that continues to this day. It wasn’t just “why do I have to buy things to have any chance of realistically unlocking characters” it was “why do I have to buy luck based objects (see: gambling) for a chance to unlock the best content”
They basically opened their big stupid mouths about an issue only select people in the industry talked about, and said “Hey, our business model is really parasitic, and the fact that we are trying to call them “surprise mechanics” to avoid the term gambling is a big warning there is a ton of f**kery afoot.
Shortly after Belgium banned it affecting not just that game, but FIFA and other big revenue whales, and other countries are still threatening to follow suit or greatly limit loot crates + microtransactions.
9. It was inevitable, really.
Putin becoming used in millions of memes because the Russian Government tried to ban his likeness used in memes.
10. I mean that’s a big grave.
Katyn Massacre: Red Army troops during WWII k**led and buried 22,000 Polish officers. The German Army found this mass grave and asked the local SS Commander if it was his graves. The SS Commander said it wasn’t his graves.
The Red Army though insisted it was the Nazis that did it. Boris Yeltsin later admitted to grave in 1992.
11. It was time to panic.
The soviet union trying to say that Chernobyl wasn’t as big a deal as it actually was.
One of my grandparents’ neighbors in Poland was a Belorussian guy from one of the closest towns to Chernobyl in Belarus.
The plant is basically on the Ukraine/Belarus border, and a huge amount of fallout happened in Belarus.
No one was informed until everyone else was, even though they got almost as much fallout as Prypiat. The way he describes it, they were across the border, so they didn’t want to share. Even when they did, the Belarusian gov maintained the thought process that it wasn’t a big deal, like the USSR was claiming.
No one was to be relocated. He was a teenager at the time and left for Minsk as soon as he could because of how pissed off the whole thing made him. His whole family stayed except for him, farming away while he was in the city and then moved to Poland after he met his Polish wife.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of his family d**d of cancer.
12. Still surreal.
Volkswagen and the emission dodging.
The crazy part of that story to me was always just how brazen they were about it.
If you hear the quick summary (VW realized their system wouldn’t pass the emissions test, so they developed software that detected when an emissions test was being conducted, and changed the engine’s operation to a mode that was much less fuel-efficient, but would pass the test), you would probably think the system was just being tweaked.
Maybe normal operating emissions were 1.5x, or something like that… but since it was a scandal, maybe it was more like 3-5x? They couldn’t have possibly designed a system that was too far off – they would have gone back to the lab if it was 10x, right?
Nope. It was more like 40x the limit.
13. It was a horror show.
Anything Japan did in WW2, now Japan just denies everything, but they tried. Unit 731 isn’t communist propaganda anymore. John Rabe was an angel of a Nazi.
Same thing happened with the Armenian genocide, an alarming number of genocides really.
14. It’s never going to stop now.
Andrew Cuomo and the covid nursing home d**th issue.
Opened the floodgates for not just criticism of his leadership, but it removed the ability for him to retaliate against the people’s he’s s**ually harassed.
He’s gone from a liberal hero to a pariah in a few weeks.
15. Mamas always know.
The U S Army trying to cover up the cause of d**th for SSG. Ryan Maseth, they tried to say it was a suicide until Ryan’s mother got it investigated and it came out that the cause was a ungrounded water pump that had been signed off by two American electricians working for KBR in Iraq.
Ryan’s mother tried to sue and it went up to the supreme court where they ruled they could not allow KBR to be sued because they were to vital to national defense. At least the truth was told.
16. The answer is almost always to ignore it.
Tons of memes here but does anyone member the Beyonce photo that her manager demanded be taken down?
That worked well.
Beyoncé had a kind of unflattering picture of her taken from her Super Bowl performance and she looked like she was d**dlifting a heavy weight or taking a huge dump and her manager tried to get it removed from the internet and instead it backfired and became a huge meme.
17. A mistake, though.
It was in no way a major cover-up but At my school one of the teachers got caught drunk driving but for some reason the school just called everybody he was sick and would not be at school for a couple days.
Of course what they did not realize what is that the officer who arrested him had a kid who went to our school and by the end of the day literally everybody was talking about it and even the gave him crap for it after he came back.
18. She still got them.
In 1974, Karen Silkwood was found d**d, as a result of a car crash. Silkwood was a chemical technician and labor union activist who was about the reveal the safety hazards.
Despite drugs found on the scene, the police and coroner didn’t believe the drug claim and went looking for other likely others. After being informed about de**h threats from her family, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the State Medical Examiner found radioactive contamination in her body.
This prompted an investigation at Kerr-McGee, the company Silkwood was talking about, which reveal the very problems that were about to going to be exposed to the media. Kerr-McGee had to pay up for what was done as they were held liable.
19. Prepare yourself.
Check out what’s been happening in the Australian Parliament House….
Attorney general accused of historical r*pe (PM says he’s an innocent man without having done any investigation)
Alleged r*pe in parliament house in a female MPs office (guy got shifted on because of “security breaches”)
Multiple members of staff wanked over a female MPs desk, recorded it and shared it around with each other
Just some of the action that came from the AG trying to cover-up an historical r*pe.
Oh! And the thousands of women who marched for justice at parliament house and were told that the PM would only talk to a small delegation if they went into parliament house…which they obviously were not keen to be doing.
20. It just took awhile.
I’d describe Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein as perpetrators of massive cover-ups that backfired!!
As of right now, the Epstein cover up seems pretty successful due to the lack of indictments and convictions considering the alleged scope. I get that JE was convicted and Jizlane is in jail, but the amount of people alleged to be involved that are still on cable news networks, holding public office, etc. makes it seem to me as being pretty successful. Hopefully that changes!
21. The forbidden click.
I think the whole “fappening” kerfuffle was made much worse by all the media coverage and celeb statements. The nudes would still have been seen by lots of people, but I’d say 10x more people saw them simply because of the people going online saying “DON’T LOOK AT THIS!”.
Forbidding someone from doing something. That famously efficacious method of getting them to not do the thing. With its long track record of successes, including Prohibition, the War on Drugs, Abstinence-Only S** Ed, and deleting any mention of Aimee Challenor.
22. Still makes me mad.
Whatever it was Saudi Arabia tried when they m**dered an American journalist in their Turkish Embassy, only for the Turkish government to call them out on it when they tried lying about it.
I had literally never heard of Jamal Khashoggi in my life until the Saudi leader decided to have him k**led.
As****inating a journalist on foreign soil was a much bigger hit to their reputation than any articles Khashoggi had written so it really was just tremendously stupid.
23. Still a bit stunning.
The response to Covid 19. PBS has a nice retrospective doc on youtube detailing the evidence that the chinese government knew that had a new SARS-like virus among the public, and all of the lengths they took to forbid any information being shared about it, mostly because they didn’t want to cause any public panic.
Obviously a backfire as it lead to the massive sh%t show that was 2020
Talk about making a mess ten times worse. Woof.
Can you think of another bungled cover up that belongs on this list? Share it in the comments!