How did George Santos get elected and why is he still in office?
One local newspaper investigated and ran articles on George Santos prior to his election. The North Shore Leader reported that Santos’s net worth went from $5,000 in 2020 to some $11 million in 2022. The paper also reported on other false claims by Santos. The small local paper is published by a conservative Republican, Grant Lally, who said that the paper disseminated the articles about Santos to other news outlets but none picked them up.
So, we have local press doing the right thing. And we have its publisher, a conservative Republican, doing the right thing. What went wrong? The local press is barely alive and there are far too few members of the GOP willing to demand honor and integrity from its candidates.
The local press used to be much more robust. As Lally said “If this had run 25 years ago, it would have been gobbled up,” he said. “There’d have been 20 follow-ups from Newsday and other publications and the weeklies.”
In Laboratories of Autocracy, David Pepper wrote about the demise of local press and how that has allowed for rampant corruption in state and local politics. A healthy and strong independent local media is vital to shining light on local corruption.
Musing on Samuel Bankman Fried and George Santos, The North Shore leader had it right when they wrote: “Character matters. Truth matters. And if we as a people don’t re-connect with the concept of objective truth – then we will be wide-open for the next iteration of SBF.”