Yesterday I was surfing the Net and came across this story about Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o. It appears that he has either been the victim of an elaborate on-line hoax, perpetuated the hoax himself or as one of the theories floating out in the clouds intimated, that he’s really in the “closet” about his sexuality.
Here’s the background…Deadspin.com was given a tip on Te’o’s girlfriend who was supposedly in a car accident, then diagnosed with leukemia. It seems that before Notre Dame’s game with Michigan State, he found out that his “girlfriend” and grandmother had passed away. So he was heralded as this strong, determined person, powering through pain and grief leading his team to an upset over Michigan State. Feel good story, with all the heart-strings pulled, violins and harps playing in the background…
Well, not so fast there chief, yes his beloved grandmother Annette Santiago did pass on, but his girlfriend is another story. Lennay Kekua doesn’t exist. There was no record of a car accident, no one enrolled at the college she supposedly attended; the background check returned absolutely nothing on a Lennay Kekua.
There’s more but the story is just too bizarre to go into all the intricate details. Nevertheless, he issued this statement:
“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,” Te’o said in the release. “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. To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.
“It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother’s death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life. I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick.”
Who knows what is really going on there, but the one thing I do know is our media, and I’m very much a part of it too, is so obsessed with bringing people down, it’s become sexual in nature. It’s almost as if some of the journalists and reporters are orgasmic when they can uncover some lie, indiscretion or varying degrees of bad behavior. I was watching Good Morning America and one of the Deadspin reporters who uncovered this little sordid tale, was so damn self-righteous and obnoxious, it almost made me want to start digging into his background. Yep, lets shake his trees and see what falls out. Glass houses people.
The man was giddy; the complete sick joy he took in catching this young man in an alleged lie was written all over his face. He seriously couldn’t contain himself. Never-mind that all the facts aren’t in yet. He has accused, indicated and convicted this young man of this hoax and in his mind, that’s pretty much the end of it.
But there’s this phenomenon called “Catfishing”. This is where people are anonymously on-line pretending to be other people, other genders, other everything and literally duping unsuspecting, lonely people into all sorts of scams and hoaxes. So it is very possible that Manti Te’o IS a victim.
I’m dismayed at what journalism has become. Gone are the days where stories are just too sordid and untoward to publish as well as fact checking first, before you present the story to the public. Everyone wants the “Big Get”. And unfortunately, some members of the media will do anything that’s necessary, even if their tactics are questionable, to get the story. We build these athletes, celebrities and many others in the public eye up so far in the stratosphere, they’re almost God-like, put them on pedestals, only to take pleasure in knocking them back down. It’s truly a vicious cycle and a disturbing game.
When you look at it in a broad sense, some journalists are just a different level of paparazzi. They do exactly the same thing, just with a better title, more money and a cooler, more accepted platform to spew their venom. Some write for fabulous magazines, sit on über flashy sets, but the basic premise is the same. They invade people’s privacy, dig into their backgrounds (interviewing someone’s 2nd cousin’s uncle’s stepmother, who married their brother’s 1st cousin’s mother’s nephew’s wife) act pompous and self-righteous, tell the public that what they’re doing is for their benefit because they have a right to know and then go on every day and nighttime TV show that will have them, ultimately basking in their own reverence at destroying someone’s life.