2015 had no dearth of viral gaffes. But shaming itself also came under scrutiny; see Jon Ronson’s book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, in its way, a Scarlet Letter for our times. To mark a year where we looked again at those we shamed, we returned to some yesteryear Hesters to see where they ended up.
The self-described “patient zero” of Internet shaming became a punchline for TV comics after her affair with Bill Clinton came to light in 1998. After 16 years of avoiding the limelight, Lewinsky delivered a stirring TED talk in Vancouver in March that’s been viewed 6.2 million times. She wrote an article for Vanity Fair this year about what it’s like to be a Halloween costume, and became an ambassador and strategic adviser with the anti-bullying group Bystander Revolution.
After Richards tweeted a photo of two programmers at a 2013 tech conference who were making sexist remarks about “big dongles,” one of the men got fired. The Internet struck back at her. She got death threats and her personal contacts were posted. #Donglegate shamed her and her firm to the point that she was terminated from her job. She now calls herself a freelance DevOps engineer and consultant.
After offensive tweets from the past forced him out of his job as chief technology officer for Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, he started an app company that would have saved his job in the first place. The app, called “Clear,” flags potentially troublesome social media posts in a user’s history so they can be deleted before opposition researchers find them. That’s how you turn lemons into lemonade.
A running gag of taking dumb photos by signs went too far when Stone posed giving the finger to an Arlington National Cemetery sign in 2012. The Facebook-photo post went viral; in days, she was fired by her employer, a non-profit that helps adults with learning disabilities. She’s since reportedly landed a job working with autistic kids, and is studying psychology at Cape Cod Community College.
Mere months before the 2013 NFL draft, Te’o went from football star with an inspiring story about a girlfriend who died tragically, to a goof engulfed in controversy. There was no girlfriend; it was all a hoax. After Deadspin broke the story, Te’o revealed he’d been catfished (duped online into a fake relationship). There were questions about why he’d continued to lie even after learning of the hoax. Despite the shaming, Te’o went on to make the NFL with the San Diego Chargers.
For some, even a third chance isn’t enough. Weiner resigned as a U.S. congressman in 2011 after it emerged he’d sent women close-ups of his crotch. He tried for a comeback, running for mayor of New York City in 2013—only to run into another sexting scandal, this time, under the hilarious alias “Carlos Danger.” Improbably, the walking PR disaster was hired this summer to work at MWW, a crisis-management PR firm. They parted ways after two months. But he did find a home as a supporting actor in Sharknado 3.
Before Sacco boarded her flight to South Africa less than a week before Christmas in 2013, she infamously tweeted: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” As she sat 30,000 feet in the air, the hashtag #HasJustineLanded began trending. Even before she landed, she’d been fired as communications director with the media giant InterActive Corp. She recently found work as director of communications with FanDuel, a fantasy sports company.
He became the face of the vulgar, abusive trend of yelling “F–k her right in the p—y” at female TV journalists delivering news reports. Though he never said those words on camera himself, he happily defended the sexist practice outside a Toronto FC soccer game to City reporter Shauna Hunt. But Simoes likely didn’t find it so hilarious after he got fi red from a $100,000 job at Hydro One. Who would hire him after he was shamed for days on end? Hydro One, it turns out. After six months off the job and an arbitration process, Simoes was just re-hired.