You know how Manti Te’o’s girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, wasn’t real? You do? Oh, so you’ve been paying attention to the news, too. Well if you’re a normal person, sometimes it’s hard to keep track of the hour-by-hour updates of what’s going on. Over the weekend, more details, both relating to Te’o’s next steps and various truths about what actually happened, have slowly emerged. So, if you were off, say, living your life, here’s your Manti-Te’o-dead-girlfriend-hoax weekend update.
Didn’t Manti Te’o do an off-camera interview with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap? What came of that?
He did, on Friday. In his first interview since the news broke on Wednesday, Te’o adamantly denied being a part of the hoax in any way, as well as admitted that he wasn’t even sure Lennay Kekua, his not-actually girlfriend, was fake until the Deadspin story (which he claims not to have read) exploded the internet. We also learned that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, long-suspected perpetrator of the hoax, admitted to his guilt to Te’o and apologized.
Te’o also cleared up a few other suspicious details: Kekua and Te’o never in fact met face to face, and the reason his father told the media that they had was because Manti fed him that story. He was embarrassed to have a girlfriend he never actually met, so he did nothing to correctly shape the narrative, both privately and publicly, of his relationship with Lennay Kekua. In fact, even before he knew the whole thing was a hoax and had received a phone call from the undead Lennay Kekua, he was tailoring the consumption of the story to reflect a more palatable truth, that he and Lennay had met. We also learned a lot of other things, which you can check out over at ESPN.
What ever came of that Notre Dame investigation that had their athletic director, Jack Swarbrick, so utterly convinced of Te’o’s innocence?
The investigation, as it turns out, wasn’t much of an investigation. According to the South Bend Tribune, the university hired private investigators on December 29th, three days after Te’o revealed to his defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and head coach Brian Kelly that he might be the victim of a hoax. Kelly then notified all the proper officials on the food chain at Notre Dame. But the investigation was hardly thorough – Notre Dame limited its scope to merely “electronic” means, and did not contact the suspect, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, or his relatives. Here’s more on those investigation details (or really, less):
“In response to questions, university officials said the investigators did not examine cell phone records, e-mails or other electronic communication to determine the length or extent of Te’o’s communication over the past few years with the person claiming to be Lennay Kekua, nor did the university ask Te’o to take a lie detector test.”
So how was Jack Swarbrick so sure of Te’o’s innocence in that emotional press conference?
Despite the cursory nature of the investigation, we do know that tweets between Tuiasosopo and other potential perpetrators were found referring to Te’o’s relationship wtih “Lennay,” as well as allusions to a “catfish” scheme.
Wait, so why aren’t we hearing any of this from Te’o on camera?
Well, you will be. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap, Te’o felt more comfortable in an off-camera setting for his first public statements. But on Thursday, during a daytime interview on Katie with Katie Couric, Te’o will face the public, well, publicly. All the networks had been reportedly quarreling to land the interview, but Couric is the lucky winner. But the interview won’t just be Manti-centric – his parents, Brian and Ottilia, will be there too. As for what they’ll all say – what details they will or will not confirm – who knows. We’ll just have to wait and see on that front.
So what’s this whole conflict of interest thing I’m hearing about with Katie Couric and Manti Te’o?
Ah, so you must be referring to Matthew Hiltzik, the spokesman hired recently by the Te’o family, who conveniently holds the same position for Katie Couric as well. How this will impact the interview – Hiltzik won’t want one of his clients to railroad the other – remains to be seen, but we can almost certainly expect an Oprah-like sympathy, as well as relative tip-toeing around the, shall we say, more unpleasant and embarrassing details of the hoax.
We’re going to hear from Manti Te’o, so that’s good. What about Ronaiah Tuiasosopo? Will he ever speak publicly?
Maybe. According to the Associated Press, Peter Navy Tuiasosopo, Ronaiah’s uncle and brother of Ronaiah’s father, a pastor, spoke with reporters outside his church:
“‘We want to do it right,’ he said, also noting that the family has hired an attorney. He never directly mentioned the hoax or his nephew being involved.”
Peter also noted that the family will be holding a meeting later this week to discuss the best course of action.
So what now? Where does this story go from here?
Again, who knows. Details have slowly leaked out with each coming day, but the next two confirmed major events will be Couric’s interview with the Te’o family and some sort of statement from Ronaiah Tuiasosopo or his family. We’ll be keeping tabs on everything throughout the week, so be sure to stick with us for further updates. Or, if you really couldn’t care less about this whole thing anymore, stay for the jokes, at least.