As 2018 draws to a close, 24/7 Wall St. is taking a look at the most important news events of the year.
The main themes of 2018 involve cultural shifts, environmental impacts, missteps among technology companies, changes in American diplomacy, the passing of two notable American leaders who symbolized bipartisanship, the ongoing investigation of President Donald Trump, and the surging economy.
Prominent among these themes was the increased influence and power of women and minorities.
The #MetToo movement, which began in 2017 with the revelation that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein had sexually assaulted women over the years, did not abate in 2018 as more women shared their stories, and more men were held accountable for their actions. Weinstein was indicted on three additional charges of sexual assault in 2018, and comedian Bill Cosby, the formerly beloved “America’s Dad,” was jailed for sexual assault.
The motion picture “Black Panther,” an action movie whose main characters are mostly black, became a cultural phenomenon in 2018 and grossed over $1 billion, more than any other film this year.
We were reminded of the fragility of the environment by the savagery of hurricanes and wildfires. Several more scientific reports, as well as reports from the United Nations and the White House, emphasized the need for more urgent action. Hurricanes Florence and Michael slammed the Carolinas and Florida, respectively, and wildfires in California in November consumed a record amount of acreage there.
There were also several episodes of data breaches and mishandling of data, including the disclosure that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had accessed the data of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge.
On the diplomatic front, Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the first time the leaders of those two nations had ever met. Trump also pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal with Iran in May, an agreement he had criticized on the campaign trail.
The year also saw the passing of former president George H.W. Bush and Sen. John McCain, two symbols of a less-polarized political era.
The ongoing investigation of the president by special counsel Robert Mueller picked up momentum in early December, when federal prosecutors presented more details of hush money payments made to two women, who allegedly had affairs with Trump. The president’s former attorney Michael Cohen, who was involved in the hush-money deal, was sentenced for various crimes including tax evasion and campaign finance violations.
Here are the most important stories of 2018.