December 30, 2022

Months before the New York Times pointed out George Santos was a liar, a local Long Island publication made it clear there was something wrong with the Republican. Via the Washington Post:

The North Shore Leader wrote in September, when few others were covering Santos, about his “inexplicable rise” in reported net worth — from essentially nothing in 2020 to as much as $11 million two years later.

The story noted other oddities about the self-described gay Trump supporter with Jewish heritage, who would go on to flip New York’s 3rd Congressional District from blue to red, and is now under investigation by authorities for misrepresenting his background to voters.

“Interestingly, Santos shows no U.S. real property in his financial disclosure, although he has repeatedly claimed to own ‘a mansion in Oyster Bay Cove’ on Tiffany Road; and ‘a mansion in the Hamptons’ on Dune Road,” managing editor Maureen Daly wrote in the Leader. “For a man of such alleged wealth, campaign records show that Santos and his husband live in a rented apartment, in an attached rowhouse in Queens.”

The weekly endorsed the Democrat, saying, “This newspaper would like to endorse a Republican," but Santos “is so bizarre, unprincipled and sketchy that we cannot. … He boasts like an insecure child — but he’s most likely just a fabulist — a fake.”

Local journalism did their job. Readers didn't. And boy, can I relate.

Back when I was covering local news, I can't tell you how many times after the crap hit the air-moving device, and residents would say, "You should have written about that."

"I did."

"Well, it should have been on the front page."

"It was."

"Oh."

Unfortunately, as I learned, most people don't read political news except for the people already involved in politics. Ordinary readers skipped right past information that was timely, useful, and documented -- because they just don't want to work that hard. So when your neighborhood gets flooded as a result of new development, or the local congressman turns out to be a fraud, it's always a complete shock!

Yes, this was a real failure of oppo research. But also, maybe people need to make the time to read their local publications.

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