2018 has been a whirlwind year in the news. With Brexit, Trump, Russia, North Korea, the World Cup, and countless other events making headlines, it wouldn’t be surprising if you forgot half of the year’s most important events. Now it’s the festive season, we thought we’d take a look back at what was driving readers to share their opinions throughout the year.
January: Stormy Daniels
The year’s news started with a bang (so to speak), as news broke that adult film star Stormy Daniels had allegedly had an affair with US President Donald Trump and been paid $130,000 to stay silent about it ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Paid through a shell company set up by Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, suspicions started to arise that the payment itself might not be entirely legitimate, as seen in this NBC Think poll.
February: Winter Olympics
The 2018 Winter Olympics were co-hosted by South and North Korea, despite half a century of clashes and tensions between the two. This year saw something of a re-brand on North Korea’s part, which began with the show it put on at the Olympics. Most NBC Think readers thought North Korea’s efforts amounted to little more than a propaganda stunt.
March: Salisbury Poisonings
Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury, England in March, throwing UK-Russia relations into crisis. UK Prime Minister Theresa May demanded an explanation from Russian premier Vladimir Putin as the nerve agent used was developed in the former Soviet Union and Skripal had also fed information to Britain, putting him at risk of assassination. HuffPost UK readers thought Russia posed a very serious threat, while Times Red Box readers thought Theresa May’s response would be met with laughter in Russia.
April: Cambridge Analytica
April saw Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg testify before Congress about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which data from 87 million Facebook user profiles were bought by elections consultancy Cambridge Analytica to produce individualised political advertisements. This is how HuffPost UK and Moneyish readers saw the ordeal.
May: Yanny or Laurel
In our politically turbulent times, it’s important to know that people will scream at each other online about very very silly things as well. A distorted voice saying something heard as “Yanny” or “Laurel” at different frequencies went viral on social media, dividing the internet into Team Yanny and Team Laurel. The Evening Standard, indy100 and HuffPost UK posed the question to its readers:
June: World Cup 2018
The 2018 FIFA World Cup was held in Russia this summer, beginning in June with the final between France and Croatia in July. Opinary users were very excited about all soccer-related polls, with questions about who would win each match garnering thousands and tens of thousands of votes. Of the 35 most popular polls in July, 31 were about the World Cup. Readers were flocking to share their views on the football competition, with engagement rates on World Cup polls up to 2x higher than average.
Despite the optimistic atmosphere in England as fans put their faith in Gareth Southgate, Germans were much less confident about their chances of winning the trophy. This timeshift from Süddeutsche Zeitung shows how the nation slowly came to terms with their performance. There was a peak around May 25th when training started and as star goalkeeper Manuel Neuer became fit to play, but swiftly dropped as the team lost to Austria and gave a lackluster performance against Saudi Arabia. Readers became slightly more optimistic after the German team rallied against Sweden and fans anticipated an easy win over South Korea, though we now know things didn’t go so well.
July: Thai Cave Rescue
The world was captivated in July by the story of 12 Thai children and their soccer coach trapped in Tham Luang cave, miraculously surviving their ordeal before being rescued by divers. Elon Musk wanted to get involved, designing a mini submarine to help some of the children, who could not swim, escape from the cave – but the craft was deemed unfit for purpose by divers familiar with Tham Luang. HuffPost UK readers suspected that Musk’s involvement was more of a PR stunt than anything else.
August: Alex Jones
In August, InfoWars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was banned from social media outlets and had content removed from YouTube and Spotify after his rhetoric was deemed islamophobic and racist. This sparked outrage about censorship of right-wing content, with many claiming large corporations were biased against their views.
September: Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Battle
September saw the confirmation hearings of now US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, rocked by Dr Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as a teenager. This led to multiple accusers coming forward to share their stories about Kavanaugh, splitting the nation as President Trump and many Republican supporters of the then-nominee disputed Dr Ford’s claims. Many demanded a delay to the scheduled vote while the FBI investigated the alleged assault. NBC Think asked its voters whether the vote should be delayed:
October: Jamal Khashoggi
Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi disappeared in October after he was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey. It was suspected the Saudi government was to blame for the disappearance, with many world leaders calling on Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed Bin Salman for an explanation. Donald Trump remained reluctant to condemn or criticise the Saudi Crown Prince, citing the amount of money and jobs the US gains from business with the country. Barron’s readers believed the time had come for the States to cut business ties with the regime once and for all.
November: US Mid-term elections
The US mid-term elections were held on November 6, Donald Trump’s first real electoral test since being elected president. Given the media attention afforded to more progressive candidates such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, there were optimistic forecasts for the Democrats’ chances, even though Republicans controlled the House, Senate and president.
NBC Think voters suspected the Democrats would come out of the battle better off than the Republicans, but in the end the GOP made gains in the Senate while conceding the House to the Democrats.
December: Brexit Deal Vote Delayed
December has seen some chaotic upsets in the UK around Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal. The government was found to be in contempt of Parliament. A TV debate between May and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was scheduled by two separate networks, squabbled over and then cancelled. And on the day of Parliament’s vote on the deal, May postponed it, anticipating defeat. She then faced off a no confidence vote sparked by rebellions from her own MPs. With the March 29, 2019 exit deadline looming large on the horizon and no agreeable deal in sight, Yahoo News poses the question: what if the whole thing were just called off?
Brexit has been one of the biggest and most divisive topics of the year. Here’s what readers had to say on the topic of a second referendum.
If you want a more in-depth look at users’ Brexit sentiments, check out this post from the Opinary blog.
That’s all for this year – all the best for 2019 from everyone at Opinary.