Opinion | George Santos’ lies evolved and thrived because of neglected newsroom practices

Here are 7 neglected newsroom practices that still matter and might have made a difference.

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., leaves a House GOP conference meeting on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Jan. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

By: Michael Bugeja

It’s difficult to crown the liar king because there are so many candidates, beginning with former President Donald Trump, who made some 30,573 false or misleading claims over four years of his presidency.

He’s lying again on the campaign trail.

In contention for the liar king, or kings, are Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. As The New York Times reports, senior executives and the biggest stars at Fox News privately disbelieved Trump’s rigged election claims “even though the network continued to promote many of those lies on the air.”

But George Santos takes the crown because of the audacity of his claims and how they evolved due to neglected newsroom practices. In support of my coronation is PolitiFact’s “Guide to George Santos’ dubious statements.” The organization has tracked political falsehoods since 2007 and writes, “But we’ve never seen anyone like U.S. Rep. George Santos.”

Here are a few of his whoppers. Santos said he graduated from Baruch College, earned a Master of Business Administration degree from New York University, worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, is part Jewish, has ancestors who fled the Holocaust and a mother who was in the World Trade Center’s twin towers on 9/11 and eventually died from injuries sustained that day.

On March 2, members of the House Ethics Committee voted unanimously to investigate these falsehoods. The media will prophesy consequences when and if violations eventually are announced. But missing will be how Santos got away with these lies and what that implies about political reporting and the state of journalism.

At the center of this debate is the North Shore Leader, a weekly Long Island, New York, newspaper with a circulation of 5,000 and a readership of 20,000. It is owned by Grant Lally, a conservative Republican and 2014 candidate for the 3rd Congressional District of New York, held now by Santos.

Lally lost to incumbent Steve Israel, a Democrat, in that general election.

In September 2020, the North Star Leader reported spurious campaign filings by Santos along with claims about his net worth. However, few newsrooms took notice of his fabrications until The New York Times did an exposé after the election.

What could the media have done to hold Santos and other liars to account?

FOR THE REST OF THE COMMENTARY, CLICK HERE OR VISIT: https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2023/george-santos-lies-evolved-and-thrived-because-of-neglected-newsroom-practices/

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