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George Santos and the lesson of what happens when lying becomes a way of life

George Santos and the politics of lying
George Santos and the politics of lying 02:29

Our commentary comes from journalist Mark Chiusano, author of "The Fabulist," the saga of disgraced New York Congressman George Santos:

2023 was a season of chaos in the House of Representatives, a cartoon of what a legislative body is supposed to be. Through it all, we've had a mascot for the messiness, and his name is George Santos.

Santos is the Republican congressman from New York who made up virtually everything on his résumé: Fake Wall Street jobs, fake college credentials, fake volleyball championship. He even told tall tales about being Jewish and saving dogs, and he now stands accused of stealing money from donors.

Yet, none of this became widely known until after his election.

How did this con man get a seat in Congress? And what made him lie so promiscuously?

Atria/One Signal

From the time that he was dressing in drag in Brazil, working in a dreary New York call center, or charting his political rise on Long Island, Santos was skillfully angling for more money and celebrity.

But it was the weakness of America's institutions that allowed Santos to go undetected. Most local media outlets were stretched too thin to expose this fabulist in time. Democrats were overconfident of winning. And Republicans shrugged, allowing the newcomer to win – and keep – his seat for cynical political and fundraising reasons.

It was not surprising that the GOP stuck with Santos for so long, given that the party's leader, Donald Trump, paid no price for his own litany of lies. Santos mimicked Trump's brazen behavior, taking advantage of our political moment which rewards bluster and exaggeration.

Santos now says he won't seek reelection and is facing expulsion, after a devastating report from the House Ethics Committee.

But the accountability is only beginning, for him and for Trump. In the meantime, Santos' wild – and wildly entertaining – story is a reminder of what happens when lying becomes a way of life.

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Story produced by Robert Marston. Editor: Lauren Barnello. 

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