George Santos (the press failed us)
WASHINGTON — OK already. What took so long? Good riddance to former House Rep. George Santos, R-NY. The Santos saga begs the question: How did he get elected in the first place?
Now we know it was due to massive fraud. But I would also add major failures on the part of the press for not properly vetting Santos.
Santos once said after losing his first race for Congress in 2020 that “he thought he could get away with it.”
Well, a simple check prior to his running of just his high school and college graduations would have revealed a huge clue, the sounding of an alarm, as to the problem. A simple check of his employment at Goldman Sachs would have ended his quest for public office. It would have been clear at that point that Santos had great difficulty telling the truth.
He would have never earned the trust of his constituents. In other words, his political career should have been over before it got off the ground.
I am not addressing the many other problems related to Santos that have drawn the attention of prosecutors. Their investigations resulted in approximately two dozen criminal charges that, if proven, would put Santos behind bars for quite some time.
One may argue that though unethical, it is not against the law to embellish your resume. Taking a more cynical stance, you may say that it is not illegal to lie about your record, speak half-truths or distort facts. Afterall, is that not what most politicians do?
Well, that is the job of the opposition party to uncover, you may argue. And it is the job and responsibility of the press to uncover the facts, get to the truth, as good stewards of information for the people. The voters only know what they are told or can observe. It is the job of the other two forces – the political parties and the press – to accurately inform the public.
To the contrary, back in the day, when I was a candidate for Congress, the press seemed to interview every person that had any contact with me since grade school, I say facetiously.
Santos was allowed to be an almost totally made-up character with major parts of his resume being inaccurate, totally fraudulent, or simply made up to make him look better than he was.
The press was AWOL. Also, where was the opposition party (the Democrats) and where was the Republican Party?
Usually all campaigns at the federal level employ opposition research firms to verify the background and record of the candidates and to see if there are any skeletons in the closet. Back in the day, each political party would have folks doing the exact same thing. Why? To make sure there are no “October surprises.” Your political party and your consultants would tell you to reveal everything, even the “bad stuff,” so they can prepare your rebuttal for the inevitable attacks during pivotal points in the campaign.
Elementary vetting would have disqualified him as a fraud and liar early on. We would have all been spared this regrettable scenario, a scenario that has resulted in the good people of the 3 rd District of New York not having adequate political representation and being forced into a do over election in a few months. They have been cheated. Santos was a crippled congressman the minute after he was revealed as a fraud.
Media, instead of following the shiny new bus or the loudest mouth in the room, stick to the basics of your job – vet the candidates.
Political parties, stop being so sloppy and lazy. Find out if you truly have an unbelievable candidate for office or maybe just an “unbelievable candidate for office” because he or she had “doctored” their credentials.
A conscientious press corp could get awkward results by just following the research, their vetting. Let’s say you refer to yourself by your middle name, not your first name as listed on your birth certificate, passport, or driver’s license. When researched, it would appear that you never voted or were driving without a license.
This actually happened to me. But a zealous press seeking an explanation would find one easily. And this is all good. But for the media not to discover this information or inquire about it is being negligent per the vetting process.
Back in the day, the media and political parties did their jobs, got it right and we never had any characters like George Santos. Enough said.