Weird on Weird: The Te’o Saga Continues
I can’t remember a weirder story than the one involving Manti Te’o.
ESPN’s article would have one believe that Te’o was the victim of an elaborate online hoax. Deadspin leads the reader to believe Te’o was involved. An example or two:
Swarbrick said Te’o never met Kekua in person.
“What I will tell you, this was exclusively an online relationship,” he said.
Nov. 28, 2009: Te’o and Kekua meet after Stanford’s 45-38 victory over Notre Dame in Palo Alto, according to the South Bend Tribune: “Their stares got pleasantly tangled, then Manti Te’o extended his hand to the stranger with a warm smile and soulful eyes.” Kekua, a Stanford student, swaps phone numbers with Te’o.
ESPN (quoting Te’o):
“This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her.”
2010-2011: Te’o and Kekua are friends. “She was gifted in music, multi-lingual, had dreams grounded in reality and the talent to catch up to them” (South Bend Tribune). “They started out as just friends,” Te’o's father, Brian, told the Tribune in October 2012. “Every once in a while, she would travel to Hawaii, and that happened to be the time Manti was home, so he would meet with her there.”
Those accounts are quite different. Which is the truth? I dunno. I guess we’ll see which one shows up first on Oprah.
The biggest thing that bothers me about all this is the media. How does a story this big, this false, pass through the media’s fingers with no one ever asking a question? Did not one reporter from Hawaii, California, South Bend or anywhere else, think about contacting the girlfriend’s family or friends or think about visiting the doctors who treated her or grave site where she was buried? Why did no one even think about practicing a little journalism?
There’s a lesson somewhere in this for all of us.