10 of the most divisive and annoying newsmakers of 2015


The year 2015 served up a timeline full of stories about people and things that really got under our collective skin.

From the silly to the sublime, from lion killers to Twitter hearts, Americans argued a lot in 2015.

Here are 10 stories that seemed to annoy people the most.

Kim Davis

kim davis
Kim Davis

The Kentucky county clerk became a folk hero for gay marriage opponents when she spent five days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

After the U.S. Supreme Court in June effectively legalized gay marriage in the country, Davis said her faith prevented her from following the new law of the land.

She didn’t even want to sign her name to marriage licenses given to gay people, as required by state law.

Last week, Kentucky’s new governor issued an executive order removing the names of all county clerks from marriage licenses in the state.

Davis supporters hailed the move as a victory for her.

Britt McHenry

ESPN reporter Britt McHenry put the “mean” in “Mean Girls” when she went off on an employee at a Virginia impound lot in April.

McHenry ripped into the woman by insulting everything from her looks to education, capping it off with this: “I’m in the news sweetheart, I will (bleep)ing sue this place.”

And how do we know this? Because it was all caught on surveillance camera, which someone in the “news” should have known.

McHenry apologized with a tweet. “In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things. As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road.”

But ESPN still suspended her for one week.


blue dress

Here’s how Wired science magazine described the “Dressgate” controversy in February. (Or, as the Washington Post called it, “the drama that divided a planet.”)

“Once upon a time, there was a striped dress, and for reasons still not clear to science, the Internet lost its mind accordingly.”

As the headline in the New York Times - the New York Times! - wondered, was the dress white and gold, or blue and black?

Millions of people argued about it on social media, using hashtags #thedress, #whiteandgold, and #blackandblue.

For the record, it was blue.

Rachel Dolezal

Rachel Dolezal

The other big “color” controversy this year: Is she black, is she white?

Dolezal, the head of the NAACP in Spokane, Wash., called herself black. Her white parents, who outed her in June, said otherwise, sparking a divisive national debate about racial identity.

“I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon,” Dolezal told Matt Lauer on the “Today” show, inspiring countless memes.

In November, on “The Real” talk show, Dolezal acknowledged for the first time that she was born white to white parents.

Ahmed Mohamed

The photo of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, wearing a NASA T-shirt and in handcuffs, went viral in September.

One of his teachers at his school in Irving, Texas, thought the homemade clock he took to school looked like a bomb.

The school called the police, the police questioned him and then put Ahmed in a juvenile detention center without letting him call his parents.

When the story broke Twitterverse supported him with a hashtag, #IStandwithAhmed, and turned him into a social media sensation. One of his fans, President Obama, invited him to the White House.

And, Ahmed was given a full scholarship to the Doha Academy in Qatar, where he and his family relocated.

Now Ahmed’s family is demanding a written apology and $15 million from the city and school district.

Google Trends published its most searched words of 2015, which varied from celebrities to games to movies. Here, see the top 10 searched words in the U.S.

Walter Palmer

The recreational big-game hunter from Minnesota became reviled around the world after he killed Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe in July.

Cecil, a major tourist attraction, lived in Hwange National Park where he was being studied and tracked by the University of Oxford. He was reportedly lured from the park and killed.

“If I had known this lion had a name and was important to the country or a study obviously I wouldn't have taken it,” Palmer said in defending himself from the world’s wrath.

Palmer always denied that he acted illegally and African authorities agreed by not charging him with any wrongdoing. He is back at work after taking a hiatus to let the backlash die down.

Twitter’s heart icon


Twitter sent its users into a tailspin in early November when it replaced its star “fave” icon with a heart symbolizing “like.”

“We want to make Twitter easier and more rewarding to use, and we know that at times the star could be confusing, especially to newcomers,” a company spokesman explained. “You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite.”

Twitter said its testing proved that people liked the new icon.

But that’s not what Twitter users said.

They didn’t heart it.

Tweeted one: “I don't want to sound melodramatic but the heart icon has made me dead inside and incapable of love. #bringbackthestar.”

Martin Shkreli

O.K., this guy didn’t really divide us because no one seemed to like him at all. But he did make everyone’s blood boil over.

The CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals rose to the top of the Most Hated Man in America list when he unapologetically hiked the price of Daraprim — a drug sometimes given to AIDS patients — from $13.50 per pill to $750 after acquiring the rights to the drug.

His arrest Dec. 17 on securities crimes connected to another biotech firm and hedge fund he worked for was seen by many as karma. Or comeuppance.



A tempest in a red cup exploded in November when Starbucks unveiled its annual holiday cup.

In years past the iconic cup has been decorated with winter-themed designs including snowflakes, reindeer and snowmen. This year it was red. Just red.

It’s a war on Christmas, some people protested!

It’s just a red cup, others cried!

Moving on.

Donald Trump

Nati Harnik AP

You love him or you don’t, because ...

He announced his presidential run by saying:When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

He called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on” after the Paris attacks.

He attacked Fox News’ Megyn Kelly after she moderated one of the Republican debates.“She starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions, and you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”

And that’s just this year.