This list has been compiled through an analysis of Google’s top national search terms in general “search” and “news” categories, supplemented with a review of the NBC’s top stories of 2018 and the New York Times’ podcast The Daily, which highlights the publication’s main story each weekday. Events are listed in alphabetical order.
Cambridge Analytica Scandal
In March, media outlets revealed that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had exploited a loophole in Facebook’s software to collect data from 87 million users. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was consequently called before the United States Congress to testify on the matter.
Alleging unfair Chinese trading practices, President Donald Trump imposed sweeping tariffs on the country earlier this year, resulting in a tug-of-war between the two economic superpowers, which have repeatedly threatened, imposed and retracted sanctions over the course of the past year.
Families Separated At The Border
A U.S. Justice Department policy of “zero tolerance” for immigrants crossing the border illegally resulted in an estimated 2,600 children being separated from their parents and placed in detention centers in June. President Trump later signed an executive order reversing the policy, but according to court documents, 171 of the children who were separated from their parents remained in federal custody as of November.
Following a controversial and combative Senate hearing focused on allegations of sexual assault, Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the United States Supreme Court by a vote of 50 to 48 in October.
Mail Bomber Arrested
At least 13 explosive devices were mailed to prominent Democratic politicians and media figures in October, ending with the arrest of suspected mail bomber Cesar Sayoc in Florida that same month.
In 2018, the #MeToo Movement continued to expose inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct of high-profile men, including U.S. Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for decades of sexual abuse of minors, and CBS CEO Les Moonves, who was let go without a severance package.
Democrats gained 40 seats and majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives; Republicans gained two seats and fortified their control of the Senate.
The Migrant Caravans
Thousands of Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans joined together on a northward migration in caravans to the U.S.-Mexico border, many of them seeking asylum in the U.S.
The Mueller Investigation
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has thus far resulted in dozens of indictments of federal crimes and seven guilty pleas or convictions.
After calling the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) the “worst deal ever” while on the campaign trail, President Trump ended NAFTA and entered into a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico in late November.