By David Perel / Boynton Beach, Fla.
In recent days, George Santos, Republican Congressman-elect from New York, has embarked on a “sorry/not sorry” series of interviews after journalists exposed many of his representations about his life as untrue or, as George calls it “embellished.” Those representations include his employment background, his education, his property holdings and even his religion.
Santos broke his silence days after the New York Times and other outlets meticulously documented his untruths. On his media tour, Santos has offered “explanations” for almost everything. Here’s an annotated guide to his comments.
Santos claimed he graduated from Baruch College in 2010 and also listed on a campaign website biography that he had attended New York University. In an interview with the New York Post the day after Christmas, he admitted, “I didn’t graduate from any institution of higher learning. I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my resume.”
George has a built-in excuse here: He didn’t graduate from any institution of higher learning, so that’s why he doesn’t know the distinction between embellishing and lying. Quick primer for George: If you claim you went to a college and never did, that’s not embellishing.
“I’m not going to make excuses for this, but a lot of people overstate in their résumé, or twist a little bit. … I’m not saying I’m not guilty of that.”
He’s not saying he’s not guilty, got that? Because being ‘not not guilty’ sounds so much better than saying “I’m guilty.”
“My sins here are embellishing my résumé,” Santos told the New York Post.
Another way of viewing it is your sin is selling more whoppers than Burger King to get elected.
Santos told WABC New York, “I want to make sure that if I disappointed anyone by résumé embellishment, I am sorry.”
See folks, I’m not sorry for actually doing it. I’m only sorry if my lies disappointed anyone.
Santos claimed on multiple occasions that he worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. Reporting exposed he did not. Santos now says he worked for a company that did business with those firms and called his previous false representations “a poor choice of words.”
Other examples of a poor choice of words: Lance Armstrong denying he took performance enhancing drugs; NBC journalist Brian Williams claiming that his helicopter was shot at in Iran, and Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Leave it to the mainstream media to call “a poor choice of words” a lie.
In presenting himself as a person of wealth, Santos claimed that he was a landlord with 13 properties. Recent reporting revealed he is not a landlord. When the federal government prohibited landlords from evicting tenants during the pandemic, Santos tweeted: “Will we landlords ever be able to take back possession of our property? My family and I nearing a 1-year anniversary of not receiving rent on 13 properties!!! The state is collecting their tax, yet we get 0 help from the government. We worked hard to acquire these assets.”
Hey, he was telling the truth about not being paid rent!
Confronted with the truth this week he said: “George Santos does not own any properties.”
Talking about yourself in the third person seems like a good strategy. It’s almost like someone else told all those lies.
“I’m not gonna make excuses for this but a lot of people overstate in their résumé.”
Clearly no excuses being made here.
Santos has said that his mother was Jewish and escaped the Nazis. He called himself “a proud American Jew” in a position paper shared with Jewish and pro-Israel leaders during the campaign. (The Forward, a Jewish publication, obtained the paper.) It has since been revealed that Santos’ mother was not Jewish and neither is he. His explanation? “I never claimed to be Jewish. I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background, I said I was ‘Jew-ish.'”
See? He’s Jew-ish, not Jewish. Now introducing the Santos Rule for Jewish people: When someone says they are Jewish, you must ask ‘with a hyphen or without?’
Santos has previously described himself as a non-observant Jew.
He didn’t lie about the non-observant part.
Previously he stated: “My heritage is Jewish. I’ve always identified as Jewish.
Does the name Rachel Dolezal ring a bell?
In November 2022, the Jewish Insider website ran the headline “Meet the Next Jewish Republican from Long island."
Suggested revised headline: “Meet the Next Jew-ish Republican from Long island.”
Santos claimed that people who worked for him were murdered in the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando in 2016. That too has proven to be inaccurate and he recently explained to WABC: “I mean they worked for me as in, they work for the company of which I was an employee of.”
Anyone who works at your company works for you. Now go tell your CEO to go out and get your lunch.
“This [controversy] will not deter me from having good legislative success. I will be effective. I will be good.”
“I will be good,” said every child caught in the act of doing something wrong by their parents.
“I am not a criminal,” Santos said during his ‘let me explain all of this’ interview.
Drawing from the Nixon playbook might not be the best strategy, George.
“There’s always two sides to the story.”
Usually true, but maybe not so much in this case.
“I’m not a fraud. I’m not a criminal who defrauded the entire country and made up this fictional character and ran for Congress.”
Why would anyone think that?
In a stunning moment of ignominy for George, former pol Tulsi Gabbard, filling in for Tucker Carlson, interviewed Santos on Fox News on Tuesday (12/27) and asked him, “Do you have no shame?’
Santos should have answered “I don’t not have shame.”
“I intend to deliver on the promises I made during the campaign.”
Listen, when George Santos says something you can believe him! That’s pretty clear by this point.
David Perel is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated investigative journalist. He has worked as a senior executive at several media companies.