Passport to Paradise. Or Something.

Remember Passport-Gate? That tense moment in which the media were fixated on the fact that Barack Obama’s—and Hillary Clinton’s!—and John McCain’s!!!—passport files had been hacked into?

You’d be forgiven if you don’t. After all, the whole scandal—from Breaking News Item #1 to Breaking News Item #5—played out in, basically, one evening. One hyped-up, nervous, melodramatic evening.

Well, today, the guy who got Melodrama’s ball rolling (that would be Lawrence C. Yontz, 48, a State Department contractor from Arlington, Virginia) announces, via his lawyer, that he, according to The Washington Post, “will plead guilty to illegally accessing the electronic passport records of high-profile politicians, entertainers and other Americans.” It’s official: the Giant Scandal Everyone Was Talking About For An Evening wasn’t, in fact, Watergate II; it was just a low-level contractor, snooping.


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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.