Republican congressman-elect George Santos has come under intense fire over revelations that he seemingly fabricated much of his biography.
Several media outlets, including The Daily Beast, have reported that Santos apparently lied about his religion, places of employment, college degrees, and residence, among other claims.
While the media spotlight on Santos has grown increasingly bright this week, conservative cable giant Fox News has all but ignored the growing controversy since The New York Times published its investigation of the GOP politician on Monday.
Of course, this is far from the first time the network has largely turned a blind eye to a story with inconvenient facts for its right-wing audience. In fact, it’s become something of a feature for Fox.
But prior to the burgeoning scandal that may cost Santos his House seat, Fox News had presented Santos as a rising star of the Republican Party. Besides regularly featuring him on its airwaves before and after the midterm elections, the network’s website published multiple “exclusive” stories fawning over Santos’ “historic” electoral victory and giving him space to call himself the “full embodiment of the American dream.”
Then, more than a month after Santos’ win in a Biden-held New York district helped Republicans secure a narrow majority in the House, The New York Times reported that much of his resume did not add up.
The Times was unable to find any records that he worked at either Goldman Sachs or Citigroup, the animal charity he claimed to run doesn’t appear to exist, and there is no evidence he graduated from Baruch College, let alone attended the school. Records show he was evicted from multiple properties over unpaid rent, though he asserted he was a landlord. The Times also revealed he did not list any properties on his financial disclosures.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Other potential tall tales Santos may have told include his claim that he lost four employees in the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting, that his grandparents “fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine” before eventually settling in Brazil, and that he was “openly gay” for a decade despite divorcing a woman in 2019.
In a statement through his lawyer on Monday night, Santos did not refute any of the facts in The New York Times story, instead calling it a “shotgun blast of attacks” meant to “smear his good name.” At the same time, the statement ended with a quote wrongly attributed to Winston Churchill. Santos has since said that he has his “story to tell and it will be told next week.”
Following the publication of The New York Times piece, Fox News and its sister channel Fox Business Network has given the swelling scandal a mere 38 seconds of airtime: a short Tuesday night hit on “straight news” program Special Report with Bret Baier, according to a transcript search via media monitoring service TVEyes.
On the digital side, the Fox News website has published one article about Santos this week—a piece that described how Santos had “fire[d] back” against the Times.
Before Santos was embroiled in controversy, he enjoyed extremely favorable coverage at Fox. In a September “exclusive” on Fox News Digital, Santos first shared a campaign ad blasting President Joe Biden for making a “nightmare” of the United States.
“I’m the full embodiment of the American dream,” he told the site at the time. “If you see the ad, it starts by telling you that, and then it tells you a little bit about where we are in our time and place in our country, where all of that is up in the air.”
Santos added: “I don’t think that little George 34 years ago would have the same opportunities if he was starting today. I’m very excited to have this ad launch and show people a little bit more about me and my story through this ad.”
The article concluded by highlighting Santos’ purported family history.
“Santos has previously called himself a ‘multi-diverse mutt,’ because his mother’s family is from Ukraine and Belgium and his father’s side migrated from a former Portuguese colony in Africa to Brazil, where his dad grew up,” the article stated. “He believes his ancestry makes him ‘as American as they come’ and he embraces his diverse background.”
In the weeks ahead of his electoral victory, he made two appearances on Fox & Friends First to promote his campaign while claiming his Democratic opponent Robert Zimmerman was only interested in distracting the voters.
“We can’t allow the distractions from the Democrat Party to hurt the messaging that the Republicans have,” he noted on Oct. 21.
During a Nov. 4 hit on the morning program, he took a swing at Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who was then locked in a tight race with Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), repeatedly described by Santos as his “good friend.”
“Her main concern in this state is coddling criminals and pandering to the woke extreme,” Santos declared, adding: “Again, I don’t care about her gender or her orientation. The reality is I want the right person, and just like many New Yorkers, we want the right people doing the job.”
Immediately following his victory, Santos made three appearances on Fox News and Fox Business within two days.
“The reality is, as members of Congress, we can hold people accountable,” he told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo on Nov. 10. “I have a platform. I’m going to use that platform to shine a very bright light on people like Alvin Bragg and Kathy Hochul to make sure they understand I will keep them honest, I will keep them accountable.”
Later that day, he would appear on Fox News’ The Story, telling anchor Martha MacCallum that Zeldin ran a “phenomenal campaign” and helped get him over the finish line in his own race.
“You’re way past high school and college, but you’re freshmen again,” MacCallum smiled at the end of the interview.
Four days later, he made headlines with another Fox News appearance, claiming he doesn’t want to immediately “waste time” on “hyperpartisan issues” and investigations when he officialy joins Congress in January. This was in response to House Republicans stating that they will devote much of their energy towards investigating the president’s son Hunter Biden.
In his most recent Fox News interview, he expressed his support for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as speaker while criticizing those Republicans who have said they will not vote for the California lawmaker.
“So the nonsense has to stop,” Santos told host Trey Gowdy on Dec. 4. “The folks in our conference need to get together and say enough is enough, the charade’s over, Kevin McCarthy earned his speakership and he will have the gavel come Jan. 3.”