Opinion

Why Didn’t The Major Mainstream Media Vet Santos Before Election Day?

   DailyWire.com
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 05: U.S. Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) (L) talks to Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) in the House Chamber during the third day of elections for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 05, 2023 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is meeting to vote for the next Speaker after House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed to earn more than 218 votes on several ballots; the first time in 100 years that the Speaker was not elected on the first ballot. (Photo by
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is a world-class liar. He has told baldfaced lies about nearly everything — from being Jewish to (for some reason) leading the Baruch College volleyball team to wins over Harvard and Yale.

But as his world continues to unravel — with official investigations into his fundraising and campaign expenditures — one question remains: How did he even win?

Santos wasn’t a complete unknown. He ran in 2020 but lost to the Democrat 55.9% to 43.4%. His opponent, incumbent Rep. Tom Suozzi, dismissed Santos and conducted no opposition, The New York Times reported earlier this month.

In his campaign last year, the Times wrote, Democrats “labored unsuccessfully to convince the news media, which had been weakened by years of staff cuts and consumed by higher-profile races, to dig into the troubling leads they did unearth.”

But one newspaper, The North Shore Leader — a small weekly newspaper on Long Island that says it “typically won’t endorse a Democratic candidate” — was way ahead of the curve. The Leader wrote that Santos was a “fake” months before Election Day.

The Leader, for instance, wrote in September about his Santos’ “inexplicable rise” in reported net worth, from next to nothing in 2020 to as much as $11 million just two years later.

Last week, long after Santos was elected, The Washington Post reported that some campaign donations came from Andrew Intrater, the cousin of sanctioned Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

That little fact was sitting there all along, but nobody else bothered to check Santos out.

Perusing a Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, the Post reported that a company linked to Intrater donated a $625,000 deposit to Santos’ former employer, Harbor City, which regulators have accused of being nothing more than a Ponzi scheme.

The Leader noted that more than $6 million was stolen from investors for luxuries like Mercedes cars and a waterfront home, as well as to pay off massive credit card bills.

“Santos’ campaign raises similar concerns. On paper Santos has raised over $2 million,” the Leader wrote. “But the money seems to have vanished – or never been there. Huge sums are listed with the FEC for personal expenses – like Brooks Brothers, Florida beach resorts, lavish restaurants and limo services – but many hundreds of thousands more disappear into a black hole of dubious ‘consulting fees.'”

Dan Kennedy, a professor at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism, has some interesting theories on why Santos avoided scrutiny from the mainstream media.

“What most likely happened is something I’ve seen during my own career: the media didn’t bother to vet Santos before the election because they believed he had no chance of winning, even though he’d run before,” Kennedy wrote in a post.

“The political press is also dependent on opposition research as well. If Zimmerman didn’t think Santos warranted investigating then it’s difficult for the media to know that, of all the people running for office, Santos deserved a closer look,” he wrote.

The Leader, which has a circulation of just 5,000, gloated over its big win in a piece headlined “The Leader Told You So: US Rep-Elect George Santos is a Fraud — and Wanted Criminal.”

Grant Lally, owner of the Leader, said the Santos story just never reached critical mass.

“There are a lot of phenomena here,” he told The Hill. “Number one is that people are far more credulous than they used to be. Everything is filtered through electronic media. They’ll believe something online but won’t believe it if it happens right in front of them.”

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.

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