In the 17 minutes that Ziwe Fumudoh, known for her witty and acerbic interviewing style, engaged George Santos, the most telling moment was an earnest one.
“What can we do,” she asked Mr. Santos, “to get you to go away?”
“Stop inviting me to your gigs,” he replied.
“So the lesson,” Ms. Fumudoh, who had invited Mr. Santos to the sit-down, said later, “is to stop inviting you places.”
“But you can’t,” he replied. “Because people want the content.”
Mr. Santos was telling the truth. After his expulsion from the House of Representatives earlier this month, the ex-congressman has somehow become more ubiquitous than before. He now charges $500 for each video he records on Cameo, and has a private subscription service on X.com where he has promised to share scandalous details about his former colleagues in Congress.
And his interview with Ms. Fumudoh was widely anticipated.
But despite her efforts to pin him down on his use of campaign funds, purported race-blindness and the seeming inconsistency between his embrace of drag culture and support for far-right anti-drag mandates, the interview broke no news.
Indeed, it only further showcased the transformation of Mr. Santos, who is facing 23 felony counts, from a scowling and disgraced figure hounded by reporters into a kind of showman, eager to turn that disgrace into a kind of low-level celebrity.
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Many guests who have gotten into the most trouble on Ms. Fumudoh’s show seemed to go on without knowing that the joke might be on them. And some — like the presidential and mayoral candidate Andrew Yang and the food writer Alison Roman — have had much to lose.
But Mr. Santos, who was expelled from Congress after an ethics report found evidence that he had brazenly stolen from his campaign, has little to lose and little to hide.
He was even willing to play on the pending criminal case against him for a gag — joking near the end of the show about wanting to keep Ms. Fumodoh’s signature for some later purpose (presumably fraudulent).
Mr. Santos delivered prepared lines about corruption in Congress and the possibility of a future in politics. He was rarely put on the defensive, taking some mild heat when he acknowledged he wasn’t familiar with queer luminaries like James Baldwin and Harvey Milk.
The performance marked a stark contrast from the figure he cut just a year ago, when The New York Times reported that nearly everything Mr. Santos had said about himself on the campaign trail was a fiction. In the immediate wake of that report, Mr. Santos largely shunned the media, emerging only briefly to admit to some of the falsehoods and offer a lukewarm apology.
His first days in Washington were marked by awkward silence, as he avoided reporters who chased him through the halls of Congress.
But his abbreviated tenure in national politics appears to have prepared Mr. Santos for confrontational exchanges, teaching him when to respond and when to take a pass.
“What advice do you have for young, diverse people with personality disorders considering a career in politics?” Ms. Fumudoh asked at one point.
Mr. Santos fixed her with a stare. “You’re cute,” he said finally, then, calling out to the production crew: “She’s so cute!”
Ms. Fumudoh hosted a well-regarded show on YouTube before moving to Showtime in 2021. That show was canceled earlier this year, but Ms. Fumudoh resurrected the medium for a special report with the former congressman.
If there was any hint of regret in Mr. Santos’s performance, it was not for any action he has taken, but for what his shameless profile has cost him.
“House of Representatives or House of Gucci?” Ms. Fumudoh asked at one point.
“You know what? House of Representatives,” Mr. Santos said with a grin, adding, for emphasis: “Slay the boots house down, House of Representatives every day!”
“Well, not every day since last Friday,” Ms. Fumudoh clarified, in reference to his removal.
Mr. Santos just stared for a moment, before he replied: “Well, whatever. Who cares?”
Michael Gold contributed reporting.