10 Cover-ups That Just Made Things Worse

Lots More Information


Mansplain, Dumpster Fire: The Dictionary Just Got (850 Words) Bigger

Mansplain, Dumpster Fire: The Dictionary Just Got (850 Words) Bigger

Merriam-Webster has added 850 words to its online dictionary. Learn more about new words for 2018 in this HowStuffWorks article.

Author's Note: 10 Attempted Cover-ups That Just Made Things Worse

I have a certain fondness for revelations about cover-ups, because in the 1980s, I worked as a newspaper reporter. One of my big stories was a Sunday Magazine piece on the leak of a toxic cloud from a chemical plant in West Virginia. The company that owned the plant insisted that local residents had no reason to fear harm from the release. But that assurance wasn't so comforting to the residents. I discovered that there had been a long history of leaks from plants in the area, and that many residents suffered from diseases that they blamed on them.

Related Articles


  • Associated Press. "Chernobyl cover-up a catalyst for 'glasnost.'" Nbcnews.com. April 24, 2006. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.nbcnews.com/id/12403612/#.USy7g6VOR8E
  • BBC News. "Pair jailed over royal phone taps." Bbc.co.uk. Jan. 26, 2007. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6301243.stm
  • BBC News. "The Dreyfus Affair: 100 Years On." July 11, 2006. (Feb. 27, 2013) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5166904.stm
  • BBC News. "Royal phone-tap probe 'widened.'" August 9, 2006. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/5258918.stm
  • Beech, Bettina. "Race and Research." American Public Health Association. 2004. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://books.google.com/books?id=tRzXJAFODuwC&pg=PA49&lpg=PA49&dq=jean+heller+buxton&source=bl&ots=uGfq91L3UC&sig=GwXyKTiXn_I80YQ0hVukC6xi2jk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=fw0sUeKXJJK40gHF7YDIDg&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=jean%20heller%20buxton&f=false
  • Blakesbee, Alton. "Scientists Link Cancer of Lung To Cigarettes." Associated Press. July 17, 1950. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=2EgpAAAAIBAJ&sjid=V2gFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1083,1413672&dq=ernst+wynder&hl=en
  • Boston Globe. "The Boston Area's First Predator Priest Case." (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.boston.com/globe/spotlight/abuse/extras/porter_archive.htm
  • Boyle, Peter et al. "Tobacco: Science, Policy and Public Health." Oxford University Press. 2010. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://books.google.com/books?id=OC3merCRJmMC&pg=PA80&dq=tobacco+industry+research+suppressed&hl=en&sa=X&ei=yhMsUcCGMO-00QGTsoDYBA&ved=0CGgQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=tobacco%20industry%20research%20suppressed&f=false
  • Butterfield, Fox. "Paper Says Ex-Priest Admitted Sex Abuse to Pope." The New York Times. October 25, 1992. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.nytimes.com/1992/10/25/us/paper-says-ex-priest-admitted-sex-abuse-to-pope.html
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Syphilis—CDC Fact Sheet." Feb. 11, 2013. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/STDFact-Syphilis.htm
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "The Tuskegee Timeline." Cdc.gov. June 15, 2011. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.cdc.gov/tuskegee/timeline.htm
  • Chinnici, Joseph P. "When Values Collide: The Catholic Church, Sexual Abuse, and the Challenges of Leadership." Orbis Books. 2010. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://books.google.com/books?id=vuggS8HlUO8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=catholic+church+sex+abuse+history&hl=en&sa=X&ei=K8YsUbCDMuXl0QGW4ICwCQ&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA
  • Cummings, K. Michael; Brown, Anthony; and O'Connor, Richard. "The Cigarette Controversy." Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Protection. Dec. 15, 2006. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/16/6/1070.long
  • Davies, Nick. "Murdoch papers paid £1m to gag phone-hacking victims." Guardian.co.uk. July 8, 2009. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jul/08/murdoch-papers-phone-hacking
  • Dowie, Mark. "Pinto Madness." Mother Jones. September-October 1977. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1977/09/pinto-madness
  • Encyclopedia Britannica. "Alfred Dreyfus." Britannica.com. Undated. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/171509/Alfred-Dreyfus
  • Greene, Richard Allen. "Rupert Murdoch admits phone-hacking 'cover-up,' apologizes." CNN. April 26, 2012. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/26/world/europe/uk-phone-hacking-murdoch
  • Jewish Virtual Library. "Alfred Dreyfus and "The Affair." 2013. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/Dreyfus.html
  • Katz, RV. et al. "The legacy of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study: assessing its impact on willingness to participate in biomedical studies." Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. Nov. 2008. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19029744
  • Lewis, Anthony. "Warren Commission Finds Oswald Guilty and Says Assassin and Ruby Acted Alone; Rebukes Secret Service, Asks Revamping." The New York Times. September 27, 1964. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0927.html#article
  • Miller Center, University of Virginia. "Warren Gamaliel Harding." Millercenter.org. 2013. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://millercenter.org/academic/americanpresident/harding/essays/biography/1
  • Motavalli, Jim. "At the Toyota Hearing, Remembering the Pinto." The New York Times. Feb. 25, 2010. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/25/at-the-toyota-hearing-remembering-the-pinto/
  • National Archives. "JFK Assassination Records—Frequently Asked Questions." Archives.gov. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/faqs.html
  • National Public Radio. "From Enron To Penn State, How Cover-Ups Happen." July 26, 2012. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.npr.org/2012/07/26/157432737/from-enron-to-penn-state-how-cover-ups-happen
  • O'Carroll, Lisa. "Phone hacking: number of possible victims is almost 5,800, police confirm." The Guardian. Nov. 3, 2011. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/nov/03/phone-hacking-victims-police
  • Public Health Law Center. "Master Settlement Agreement." Publichealthlawcenter.org. 2010. (Feb. 25, 2013)http://publichealthlawcenter.org/topics/tobacco-control/tobacco-control-litigation/master-settlement-agreement
  • Records of the Harem Conspiracy against Ramses III. Reshafim.org.il. Undated. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/texts/judicial_turin_papyrus.htm
  • Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy. "Chapter 7: Lee Harvey Oswald: Background and Possible Motives." Archives.gov. 1964. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/warren-commission-report/chapter-7.html#cuba
  • ScienceDaily. "Pharaoh's Throat Was Cut During Royal Coup, Study Shows." Sciencedaily.com. Dec. 17, 2012. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217190641.htm
  • Select Committee on Assassinations, U.S. House of Representatives. "Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives." Archives.gov. 1979. (Feb. 25, 2013)http://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/select-committee-report/part-1c.html
  • Senate.gov. "April 15, 1922—Senate Investigates the Teapot Dome Scandal." Senate.gov. Undated. http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Senate_Investigates_the_Teapot_Dome_Scandal.htm
  • Shermer, Michael. "Why People Believe in Conspiracies." Scientific American. September 10, 2009. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-people-believe-in-conspiracies
  • Sky News. "Murdoch Folds News Of The World Over Hacking." Sky.com. July 8, 2011. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://news.sky.com/story/867672/murdoch-folds-news-of-the-world-over-hacking
  • Tuskegee Syphilis Legacy Committee. "Final Report of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study Legacy Committee—May 20, 1996." University of Virginia. May 20, 1996. (Feb. 27, 2013) http://www.hsl.virginia.edu/historical/medical_history/bad_blood/report.cfm
  • Washington Post. "The Watergate Story (Timeline)." (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/watergate/timeline.html
  • Wojdyla, Ben. "The Top Automotive Engineering Failures: The Ford Pinto Fuel Tanks." Popular Mechanics. May 20, 2011. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/news/industry/top-automotive-engineering-failures-ford-pinto-fuel-tanks
  • Slepian, Michael L. et al. "The Physical Burdens of Secrecy." Journal of Experimental Psychology. Nov. 2012. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://psycnet.apa.org/?&fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/a0027598
  • World Health Organization. "Health effects of the Chernobyl accident: an overview." April 2006. (Feb. 27, 2013) http://www.who.int/ionizing_radiation/chernobyl/backgrounder/en/index.html
  • World Nuclear Association. "Chernobyl Accident 1986." World-nuclear.org. Dec. 2012. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/chernobyl/inf07.html

More to Explore