Top 11 Biggest Scandals of 2011

VIDEO: Part 1 of Katie Couric's special looking back at 2011.

With social media becoming a new vehicle for scandal, the price of fame got even higher in 2011.

Here are some of those whose misdeeds or missteps made headlines this past year.

Watch "The Year With Katie Couric" now and click here for more on "The Year" from People magazine.

PHOTO The ABC News Interview With Charlie Sheen
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Steve Han/ABC News
1.
Charlie Sheen: The Mother of All Meltdowns
Former "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen entered drug rehab in January, leading CBS to put "Two and a Half Men" on hiatus. In February, Sheen criticized the show's creator, Chuck Lorre, on the radio program "Alex Jones Show." CBS then announced it had canceled the rest of the season.

Sheen threatened to sue CBS for breach of contract and began a much-discussed string of media appearances to explain himself, and state he was "winning" and taunt Lorre. One of the most memorable interviews he gave was with ABC News' Andrea Canning.

The uncertainty over "Two and a Half Men" ended when CBS hired Ashton Kutcher to take Sheen's place as co-star of the show.

"Celebrities lose it every year, but seldom do they lose it to the extent that Charlie Sheen lost it," said Current TV host Brett Erlich.

2.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's Secret Love Child
The image of Arnold Schwarzenegger -- movie star, former governor of California, husband to Maria Shriver -- took a major hit when it was revealed he had had an affair and a child with a former housekeeper, Mildred Baena, 14 years earlier.


In May, Shriver moved out of their home and later filed for divorce.

"It was a heartbreaking tale, especially to see Maria, someone who had been standing by her husband's side, all these years," said Jen Garcia, assistant editor at People magazine.

3.
Anthony Weiner's Tweets
"To be clear, the picture was of me and I sent it."


So ended the Anthony Weiner scandal, which resulted from lewd photos of himself Weiner, a congressman from New York, sent via Twitter to six women. He had denied it initially. Ultimately, it caused him to resign, and social media had taken on a whole new meaning.

"He was much more himself on Twitter than anyone would advise a public figure to be," said Toure, author of "Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness." "Twitter is just a microphone that allows you to say whatever you want, to whoever wants to listen. So, you know, it doesn't make you stupid, it just amplifies the potential to be stupid. And so you say stupid things, and there you are."

4.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the Hotel Maid
Two thousand-eleven was a big year for political sex scandals, and they weren't limited to U.S. officeholders. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, or DSK, started the year as managing director of the International Monetary Fund and a possible future president of France.


In May, he resigned from the IMF after being charged with sexually assaulting a maid at a New York City hotel. The charges were later dropped after prosecutors expressed serious doubts about the maid's credibility.

Comedian and TV host Chelsea Handler said, "The thing that I couldn't get out of my head was that his wife was victoriously walking out of that courtroom like, 'Yes, my husband may have had sex with someone, but at least it wasn't a rape.'"

5.
The Naked Truth: Hacked Photos
Celebrity scandal and computer hacking intersected in 2011, when nude or revealing photos of Scarlett Johnson, Blake Lively, Mila Kunis and Jennifer Lopez appeared on the Web.


"Blake Lively and Scarlett Johansson -- oh, what a shame, everyone hated that they showed pictures of their bodies online," said Erlich, capturing the reaction of many.

"If you send a naked photo of yourself to a website or to anyone, then you're asking for it to be published. No one needs to send naked pictures. Just when you see that person, get naked and show them," cracked comedian and TV host Chelsea Handler, with impeccable logic.

6.
Dramatic Storm-Outs
With Paris Hilton, it was ABC News' Dan Harris asking her whether she worried about her moment having passed. With Tea Party figure Christine O'Donnell, it was CNN's Piers Morgan asking her position on gay marriage.


This year some celebs who forgot the words "No comment," instead ending interviews in a huff when asked questions they didn't want to answer.

The most explosive example was when singer Chris Brown was asked on "Good Morning America" about his scandal involving physical abuse of then-girlfriend Rihanna, which included his pleading guilty to felony assault.

"He threw a chair into a window. … Really smart move to defend yourself against charges of violence, by being super-violent," Erlich said.

7.
Stars Said What?
Among the stars who said scandalous things this year were Bristol Palin, who was filmed on her reality-TV show asking a heckler whether he didn't like her mother, Sarah Palin, because he was a "homosexual"; British fashion designer John Galliano, who said he loved Hitler in a video shot at a Paris bar; and NBA players Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah, who used anti-gay slurs. All except Palin later apologized (in her case, the heckler apologized to her).


Another prominent athlete, Serena Williams, verbally harassed the chair umpire in the U.S. Open final, at one point asking her, "Weren't you the one who screwed me over last time?" She lost the match and was fined $2,000.

Tracy Morgan was a controversy machine in 2011. He made a lascivious remark about Sarah Palin in January, used homophobic language in a stand-up show in June and, later that same month, insulted the disabled.

Brad Pitt made news when he seemed to denigrate ex-wife Jennifer Aniston in an interview with Parade magazine, saying that during their marriage he "wasn't living an interesting life. ... I think my marriage had something to do with it."

He quickly issued a statement saying his words had been taken out of context, and reiterated the clarification in an interview with Matt Lauer on the "Today" show.

8.
Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan continued her string of scandalous years. In February, she was convicted of misdemeanor theft for stealing a necklace from a store, an offense that also constituted a violation of her probation from previous convictions.


While under house arrest, Lohan failed a random alcohol test, but her judge decided it was not a probation violation.

In October, a judge revoked Lohan's probation on the basis of failure to comply with her probation terms, sending Lohan back to jail unless she posted bail of $100,000, which she did.

"Lindsay Lohan kind of melted down, but she melted down that way last year," Current TV host Brett Erlich said. "She's had so many bad years in a row, she's going to have to stop calling them bad years, she's just going to have to rephrase and say, 'These are years.'"

9.
Christina Aguilera Flubs the National Anthem
Christina Aguilera's scandalous goof wasn't insulting or criminal, but it landed her on this list because it happened during the country's most-watched TV spectacle and its national anthem.


Singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" before the Super Bowl, Aguilera left out the line, "O'er the ramparts we watched," and -- perhaps to make up for it -- turned "What so proudly we hailed" into "What so proudly we watched."

10.
Roman Polanski Assault Case
Film director Roman Polanski's decades-long, sexual-assault case resurfaced in 2011.

After being defended for years by fellow members of the artistic community, especially in Europe, Polanski benefited from words spoken by the crime's alleged victim, Samantha Geimer.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News in March, Geimer said prosecutors' and the court's handling of her case had done "way more damage to [her] and her family than anything Roman Polanski has ever done."

She added the media were "really cruel" in allowing this.

In September, a documentary film was released in which Polanski apologized to Geimer, saying, "She is a double victim: my victim, and a victim of the press."

11.
Silvio Berlusconi: Bunga Bunga
In November, Silvio Berlusconi resigned as Prime Minister of Italy amid political and economic turmoil caused by the European debt crisis.


He returns to private life facing four ongoing criminal trials, for allegations of abuse of power, bribery, embezzlement and underage sex. The last one -- given the name Rubygate -- is the scandal that kept people buzzing during 2011.

The case involves Moroccan stripper Karmina El Mahroug, known as Ruby Heartstealer. Prosecutors allege Berlusconi had sex with Mahroug when she was 17 and later called a jail to get her released on an unrelated theft charge to keep her from going public. The underage sex and abuse of power charges carry a combined sentence of 15 years.

Mahroug told prosecutors about parties Berlusconi held at his villa that were like orgies, featuring an alleged dance ritual called "bunga bunga," in which Berlusconi and around 20 nude girls participated.

Berlusconi has denied all the allegations. A verdict could come as early as spring.

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