This whole Manti Te’o girlfriend thing is absolutely crazy. I had no idea about the supposed story (that until today, I guess, wasn’t so supposed) about him losing his girlfriend to leukemia and using it to inspire him and his team on their incredible season leading up to a complete no show in the championship game, getting waxed by Alabama. In my recent memory never before has there been a news story like this. Not in sports. Not in politics. Not anything. Something that for so long was a source of awe and inspiration, a story thrown around the media like the high school cafeteria. Each story with its only little bit of unique, that when lumped all together shows the true colors. It’s like one of those posters that you have to stare at real close for a few minutes and then back a way to see the whole picture. But in today’s day and age, how was it possible for the public to be stuck staring and not put it all together? It all begins and ends with the media.
Today’s sensationalist media, which feeds on inspiration and awe, was chomping at the bit. Te’o was perfect. The next Tebow-like figure that the media requires year in and year out. The all american guy, a star football player on a highly ranked team with a great attitude, family, a great “story.” Once on the teat they couldn’t stop. Every different type of news organization coming out with stories about his girlfriend, her death, his inspiration. It was beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that all these media outlets forgot to do what they were founded to do to begin with, actual journalism.
I’m sure all of you have read the Deadspin article now that outlines, in full detail, the entire hoax. If you havent, immediately stop reading this and do so. You wont be disappointed, and will most likely finish with your hands on your head in disbelief going, “holy sh*t, how was this possible?” It was possible because the same news organizations writing all of these stories about her tragic death involving both a car accident and then a treacherous battle with leukemia failed to read each others’ material. The Deadspin article points out that between the stories ran on major outlets there were four different dates of her death. There are an incredible amount of different quotes, tweets, stories of her visiting his family in Hawaii, conversations between her and Manti etc. None corroborating any others, no witnesses, nothing, but all taken for gospel.
Somewhere, some famous person in investigative journalism from back in the day when reporters had beats, and you know, did actual reporting is rolling over in his grave. It didnt take Irwin Fletcher to solve this one. All it really should have taken someone is a Nexis search after her death. None of the news outlets wanted coverage of the funeral, comment from the relatives? I find that hard to believe, which I have found myself saying time and time again with the story. If someone would have simply looked, one would have found that there is no record of the death. Which then would have sparked numerous questions as the avalanche begins and the whole thing falls apart. But no one did, until now. Or maybe check with Stanford, where as Deadspin points out you would have found no record of her as a student or past student.
Journalism is an interest of mine. I love sports and think that sports journalist have one of the most incredible jobs in the world. They pay their dues but they get rewarded in a way very few do. My step-mom was a reporter, classically trained to do real reporting, actual work to find and break a story. I am not claiming that I know more than others or am some sort of expert on the art of journalism but. I absolutely know that hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20. That being said, HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED? This man was able to not only trick the media, which as it appears all you need is a good story and some creativity on social media, but a lot of the American public. It took Deadspin, an internet media company. A company that, I’m sure, many of the major news outlets frown upon and want people to think is not up to the standards of the big guys, and should most certainly not be trusted. They did the fact checking, they did real reporting and ended up finding the rabbit hole and are taking it as far as it goes.
This whole story is an indictment of the media today. It challenges the integrity of most major news outlets. I mean CBS did a special the day of the national title game about Te’o and his now-known-to-be-non-existent girlfriend. ESPN was all over it. How could no one have uncovered this? How is there not a single person that really wondered beyond what was being told? How was there not some 23 year old college bro sitting on the couch with his buddies looking up on Google “Manti Te’o girlfriend?” I’ve been there (BTW, atta boy Johnny Football…his girl is gorgeous). I guess so far the only possible explanation could be that EVERYONE was in on it. One big hoax on America’s people. Apparently in South Bend, April Fools Day is January 16th. I’m much looking forward to the jokes about this, because I don’t think its inappropriate anymore if the girl who died of cancer didn’t actually die of cancer, or more importantly didn’t exist at all. And all of this at a University dedicated to Catholicism with a huge statue of Jesus right close to the football stadium. I am by no means perfect, or anywhere near so I’m not going to judge Te’o or the Tuess-whatever-his-name-is who supposedly set this whole thing up until a lot more is learned, and I have a feeling that, “like the Bordeaux grape, this [story] will get extremely better with time.”
UPDATE: Completely forgot to include my newest favorite t-shirt on the market…via Barstool Sports.
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UPDATED UPDATE: Here are some tweets found by Justin Megahan, using services like Topsy that have a direct fire hose from Twitter, that shows friends of the scam architect joking about the whole thing months ago.
Here they are joking about other people running Lennay’s Twitter.
Here they are talking about ND needing some divine intervention in the title game.
This one is calling out Ronnie T as being the one running the profile.
More calling out Ronnie.