I have to say that I was shocked by the news coverage the past day or so over the Manti Te′o hoax. The Notre Dame linebacker allegedly was in some sort of relationship with a woman, Lennay Kekua, whom Te′o told media types like Sports Illustrated, had died the same day as his grandmother. Then, Deadspin.com broke the story that the girlfriend was a fake, causing the college′s athletic director, Jack Swarbrick to hold a press conference Wednesday evening. As the story unfolds, there appears to be a connection with a Te′o family friend, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, to creating this fake girlfriend. Some versions explain that Te′o maybe the victim of a catfish, or catfishing, where somebody creates a fake identity online to attract a lover. One of the problems is that Te′o continued to tell his story about Lennay at least two after he had to know that the woman never existed. Some believe this was to solicit sympathy from the Joe Theismann Trophy board, which did pick Te′o as first runner-up to the prestigious honor.
The story gets even worse from there. There is some speculation now that Te′o may have willingly participated in this fake girlfriend to squelch any rumors about his sexuality. The good news to come out of this is that it smothered the whole Lance Armstrong confession nonsense. One has to wonder now how long it will be before Te′o appears on Oprah to cry and confess over his possible actions?
Let us assume for the moment that Te′o was initially a victim of an elaborate prank, one which even went as far as to recruit an actual woman to pretend to be Lennay during the alleged phone conversations. If such was the case, then Te′o crossed the line when he continued to tell the lie to cover his butt as his team competed for the national championship. Not a very nice thing to do to the millions of college football fans who may have found his story inspirational.
On the other hand, let us say that he was in on the joke from the start in order to glean some extra fame and publicity to earn more money down the road when he joins an NFL team. Not only are his actions then totally despicable, but we also have an incredibly lazy press corps that did nothing to verify his tales of woe. This alleged relationship apparently went on for at least a couple of years. Nobody thought to check up on it?
In the New Normal of the Age of Obama, journalism died as a profession. Even when the truth is blatant and obvious, it is ignored or fact-checked into obscurity. Since the nation is now dominated by the Low Information Voters, fewer people really care about the truth. The Manti Te′o hoax story is just one more sign of the failure of our culture. Bread and circuses is all anyone cares about now. The only new thing to come out of this is the new Internet craze of ′Te′oing′, people taking pictures of themselves with their imaginary friends. Yuk-yuk!