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Gone Catfishing: Updates on the Te’o Story

As the tangled tale of an unimaginable hoax continues to unravel, we’ve read some good stuff and learned a few more things.


For your perusal, we've got links to updates in the story since Jeremy Schapp's Friday night (1/18) interview with our erstwhile linebacker.

Her Loyal Sons has compiled a full and evolving timeline of the events in the Te'o story.

According to a neighbor of the Te'os, Manti was concerned about Lennay Kekua's integrity back in 2010, but was satisfied by assurances from friends - friends the hoaxer had also unwittingly entangled in the deception - that she was real.

Tying up another loose end, Brian Te'o confirmed his earlier quotes to the South Bend Tribune about Manti and Lennay Kekua meeting, citing "Lennay's brother" as the source for his story about the Stanford game meeting.

According to another individual drawn into the web of the Te'o hoax, the perpetrators continued to harass Manti two nights before the BCS championship game when someone told Te'o they were in the lobby of his hotel. This, too, was false, but they went so far as to send him photos of the lobby. Just total madness.

The South Bend Tribune laid out details of Notre Dame's investigation into Te'o's story, shedding light on how they proceeded.

Jeremy Schapp reflected on his interview with Te'o, affirming both Te'o's believability and earnestness during the interview and the possibility that he himself may be "the most gullible" of men.

Katie Couric landed Te'o's first on-camera interview since news of the hoax was broken. Manti's parents will also participate. What else could there possibly be left to tell?

The Tuiasosopo family is planning to respond to the allegations that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is the mastermind behind the Te'o hoax and offered their first comments on the situation Sunday.

ND alum Christina Pesoli wrote a compelling reflection for the Huffington Post on the intense public shaming of Manti Te'o, arguing that the victim of such an unimaginably cruel hoax ought to elicit public sympathy instead of wrath (obvious as that sounds).

Mitch Albom at the Detroit Free Press similarly wrote a thoughtful critique of the public reaction to Te'o's story, lamenting the anger directed at the young football star.

Bayou Irish at Her Loyal Sons took a good look at the possibility of legal outcomes for those behind the Lennay Kekua hoax. Is it possible that it is fully legal to do this to someone?

Editor Allan Joseph of The Observer, Notre Dame's student paper, very bravely and insightfully examines and apologizes for the newspaper's reporting of the Kekua story during the season, showing great and rare journalistic integrity.

Can you believe a 2014 recruit recounted his weekend visit to Notre Dame to recruiting services - a visit he did not take? "The visit went great...and we had a great time at the game," he told 247. Yep. He has since apologized for the "misunderstanding." No word yet on whether this "Notre Dame" actually exists.

And finally, why not read up on some of the other spectacular hoaxes in recent history while we're embroiled in all this? My favorites: the 1938 "War of the Worlds" broadcast, which convinced many good, rational people that New Jersey was actually being invaded by aliens, and the 1996 "Sokal Affair," in which a professor of physics duped the elite of postmodern cultural studies into publishing his gag article, replete with nonsense, in a fancy academic journal.


***UPDATES, 22 January, 2013***

Further backing the details of Te'o's account, a close friend of the linebacker's at Notre Dame describes being present when he received a call from "Lennay's brothers" about her car accident.

Eric Hansen at the South Bend Tribune spoke with Manti Te'o's religious leader, who offers a very compelling corroborating account of his own interactions with "Lennay" over the phone, Te'o's confiding in him about the December 6th phone call, and of how the relationship could have evolved from online friendship to "love of his life" in four months' time.

The woman whose photos became "Lennay Kekua," Diane O'Meara, describes how "Ronny" Tuiasosopo spent "the past five years... stalking my Facebook and stealing my photos....Ronny has called and not only confessed, but he has also apologized. I don't think there's anything he could say to me that would fix this."

The New York Times describes how ESPN let the story slip through their fingers, despite being tipped off to it a week before Deadspin broke it by Tom Condon, Manti Te'o's agent. THAT'S a source.

Tim Prister at Irish Illustrated fires shots across Deadspin's bow, critiquing the lack of journalistic integrity manifested in Burke's and Dickey's reliance on a bad source to implicate Te'o in the hoax.

Additionally, here is a promotional clip for Katie Couric's interview with Manti Te'o and his parents, airing Thursday.