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Posted: December 29, 2017

Year in review: The 7 most controversial figures from 2017

(L-R) President Donald Trump, comedian Kathy Griffin and film producer Harvey Weinstein are among 2017's most controversial public figures.
Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
(L-R) President Donald Trump, comedian Kathy Griffin and film producer Harvey Weinstein are among 2017's most controversial public figures.


By Kelcie Willis, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

This year saw polarizing figures emerge in entertainment, politics and sports, but mostly politics.

>> Read more trending news 

Here are a some of the most controversial public figures who made headlines this year -- two of whom made the list last year.

7. Megyn Kelly

Journalist Megyn Kelly started her new gig with NBC News with a relatively cold reception from viewers, many of whom thought she was brought on to replace the third hour of the “Today” show, “Today’s Take,” with her own morning show, “Megyn Kelly Today.” The latter ultimately happened, and before Kelly’s show premiered Sept. 25, “Today’s Take” co-host Tamron Hall left NBC News and MSNBC.

Kelly’s talk show started with harsh reviews, tapered-off ratings and a report that celebrities didn’t want to appear on the show. Kelly went viral when guest Jane Fonda had a curt response when the actress was asked about past plastic surgeries.

6. Kellyanne Conway

White House advisor Kellyanne Conway may be partially responsible for the rise of the term “fake news” this year. In January, she used the term when speaking to CNN’s Anderson Cooper  about Russia reports.

Related: Photos: Most controversial figures from 2017

Later that month, she used the term “alternative facts” when asked about former White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s false claims about the crowd size at President Trump’s inauguration.

Before that, while speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper in December 2016, she said, “I think the biggest piece of fake news in this election was that Donald J. Trump couldn’t win.”

While speaking at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in October, she said she has never used the term, but her history says otherwise.

“I’m a person in the West Wing who has actually never uttered the words ‘fake news,’ ‘enemy of the people,’ ‘opposition party,’” Conway said. “I don’t speak that way.”

5. Omarosa Manigault-Newman

Set to exit her White House post in January, Omarosa Manigault-Newman announced she was leaving her role as director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison to “pursue other opportunities,” according to a Dec. 13 statement from press secretary Sarah Sanders. Her former friend and current rival, American Urban Radio Networks White House correspondent April D. Ryan, said she heard that Manigault-Newman was fired and had to be physically removed from the White House. Manigault-Newman denied the claim.

Related: Omarosa teases tell-all in post-White House resignation interview

In a morning television interview after the announcement of her resignation, Manigault-Newman teased a tell-all book about her experiences in the White House. It was met with dismissal by “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts.

Manigault-Newman may be used to a frosty reception. In August, a number of attendees at the National Association of Black Journalists convention stood up and turned their backs on her when she spoke at a panel.

4. Colin Kaepernick

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has remained largely silent this year, and it’s partly what makes him controversial. 

The athlete, who went unsigned during the football season, popularized a wave of protests and demonstrations across sports during the playing of the U.S. national anthem.

Former pro boxer and entrepreneur George Foreman went so far as to suggest that Kaepernick was unpatriotic because of his protests. 

Despite headlines that said players were protesting the anthem, many athletes were actually kneeling during the anthem to bring attention to social injustice, police brutality and racism. Kapernick was recognized for his work when Beyonce presented him with the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award in December.

3. Kathy Griffin

It took one photo for Kathy Griffin to lose career opportunities and draw criticism across the country. In May, the comic posed for a photo with a bloodied head that appeared to be made in the likeness of President Donald Trump. The image was criticized by many, resulting in a statement from First Lady Melania Trump and a string of tweets from President Trump. 

“Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick,” Trump tweeted May 31.

Soon after, CNN cut ties with Griffin, who lost her job co-hosting the network’s New Year’s Eve show with Anderson Cooper. Griffin said she “went way too far” and apologizedin May. Reports said she was interviewed by the U.S. Secret Service in June. By August, she took back her apology.

Griffin also began a public feud with TV personality Andy Cohen, who was named her New Year’s Eve show replacement. In a video she posted on YouTube Oct. 28, she accused Cohen of offering her drugs and negatively impacting her career. She also said Cohen and TMZ founder Harvey Levin “live to take women down.” Cohen denied Griffin’s claims, tweeting, “I am completely stunned by this story. It is 100% false and totally made up.”

2. Donald Trump

President Donald Trump started the year -- his first as president -- by signing an executive order stopping immigration to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim countries, although Trump initially said it was not a ban.

In June, Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. Officials with the White House said in September that the president still planned to withdraw from the agreement. Trump said in a speech in May 2016 that the agreement “gives foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use right here in America.”

“Consistent with the president’s announcement in June, we are withdrawing from the Paris Agreement unless we can reengage on terms more favorable to the United States,” a White House official said at the time.

In December, Trump declared Jerusalem the capitol of Israel and announced plans to relocate the U.S. embassy to that city. The decision drew protests and concerns among diplomatic leaders around the world, as the city is a source of conflict between Israel and Palestine.

1. Harvey Weinstein

More than 75 women have come forward to publicly accuse Hollywood producer and executive Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, ranging from harassment and assault to rape.  

Actresses including Ashley Judd and Salma Hayek shared their stories with The New York Times in an interview and first-person piece, respectively. 

Related: 3 women reportedly accuse Harvey Weinstein of rape

Weinstein has denied non-consensual contact with women, but the fallout has been severe. In October, Weinstein’s wife of 10 years, Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, left him as more women came forward with allegations. Before that, he was fired from his film company, The Weinstein Company. Weinstein was one of dozens of prominent men accused of sexual misconduct in 2017.

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