Total access

The Manti Te’o story isn’t the most important thing in the word. But, in my view, the competition between adversarial journalism and access journalism is extremely important. Access journalism dominates at the national level for a variety of reasons — the popularity of splashy, access-driven books like Bob Woodward’s, the decline in revenues at magazines and newspapers as things move on line increases the temptation to run “advertorials” (perhaps this is more accurately described as “prostitutional” journalism), political elites and establishment journalists are part of the same old, rich, boys’ club.

So I like this piece on Deadspin (via) a lot:

Mock Deadspin at your peril. Hell, compliment Deadspin at your peril. (Just ask Donald Trump.) Look at Deadspin’s signature line: “Sports News without Favor, Access, or Discretion.” That’s funny, yes, but it’s also telling, particularly the part about access. Deadspin could care less about pissing off Notre Dame – or anyone else, for that matter. (Just ask Donald Trump.) Deadspin breaks the story; ESPN, which is all about access, gets the Te’o interview in the story’s wake. Deadspin comes out ahead. Deadspin crushed this story, going from tip to publication in a matter of days. At most newspapers, there would have been meetings. There might even have been soul searching and thumb sucking and earnest conversation. The folks at Deadspin – two reporters, two editors – crashed the reporting and cranked on the writing. Good on them.

91 replies
  1. 1
    LittlePig says:

    Amen! ‘Twas a beautiful thing to behold.

  2. 2
    👽 Martin says:

    But, in my view, the competition between adversarial journalism and access journalism is extremely important.

    Everything has a cost. You want access, you’re going to pay a price – no matter how strongly you proclaim that you won’t.

  3. 3
    nemesis says:

    Boyti is a liar.

  4. 4
    Wag says:

    This past week has been full of cautionary tales in sports writing. Example #1, see above. Example #2? See LA. The price for access to LA was swallowing his, lies, hook, line, and sinker. the rpice of being adversarial? Having your butt sued.

  5. 5
    BGinCHI says:

    Here is my constructive contribution to this story:

    Fuck Notre Dame.

  6. 6
    FridayNext says:

    Just to be a grouchy curmudgeon, but the phrase should be “Deadspin couldn’t care less about pissing off Notre Dame” not “Deadspin could care less about pissing off Notre Dame.” Unless of course they do care very little, but could care a little less, but I don’t think that is what they meant.

    Just one of my pet peeves.

  7. 7

    When people like you, they tell *you*.

    When people don’t like you, they tell everyone *but* *you*.

    Behold: the Deadspin business model.

    Take note, Village People: the days of Cokie Roberts telling me “what it means” are not only over, but have been replaced with better, faster, stronger, cheaper, and delicious.

  8. 8
    ant says:

    Deadspin could care less about pissing off Notre Dame

    could, or is it could not.

    This really bugs me.

  9. 9
    BGinCHI says:

    @BruceFromOhio: It’s amazing the Sunday talk show model has stayed alive this long.

    How long you think that shit show biz can hold out?

    Only way it lasts is to give Dave Weigel and Chris Hayes, or the Grio folks, shows and get busy talking to someone besides old white people.

  10. 10
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Sports reporting in general is miles above any other form of reporting in our society. The penalty for inaccuracy or favoritism is brutal – readers won’t stand for it. And the readers are exceptionally well informed. Mislead them at your peril.

    Everything right about sports reporting is wrong about political reporting. Why is that?

    I figured it out. Plain in simple, the citizenry do not give a shit, and would rather be well informed about games rather than those who rule them.

    This has some rather obvious bad ramifications.

  11. 11
    Hunter Gathers says:

    I think people are missing the real reason Te’o pulled his little con job – money. He saw dollar signs when he latched himself to his fake dead girlfriend. He knows that hype is as important as talent when it comes to the NFL draft. The difference between a low first or second round pick compared to being a top ten pick is tens of millions of dollars in the long run. Being a high first round pick gets you a lot more money in your second or third contract. It was all about drawing more attention to himself and improving his draft prospects. Don’t discount the Mormon factor either. Mormons worship the all-mighty dollar bill, and will do anything to appease their green god. The dead girlfriend was all about hype and money. Don’t think that hype gets you money in the NFL? Then explain to me why Tim Tebow is still employed after proving without a doubt that he can’t fucking play? Sure, he’ll get cut by the Jets, but someone will pick him up, if only to sell jerseys. They only difference between Te’o and Tebow is that Te’o has some talent. But they are both money grubbing, bible thumping pig fuckers.

  12. 12
    Mnemosyne says:

    @FridayNext:

    Actually, since it’s an expression of extreme disinterest, the correct phrase is “could not care less” since you feel it’s impossible for you to care even less about something than you already do.

    If you say that you could care less, you’re saying that you actually do care a little, but could care less with some effort.

  13. 13
    ericblair says:

    Access journalism means you talk to important people in big offices and at fancy parties, and these people tell you how special you are and how much they like you.

    Adversarial journalism means you stare at a bunch of papers or a computer screen all day, call people who don’t want to talk to you, and get called bad names by important people (or a lot worse, in places). No parties.

  14. 14
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    I have to wonder why Manti Te’o’s humiliation is anyone’s business.

  15. 15
    J. Michael Neal says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    Sports reporting in general is miles above any other form of reporting in our society. The penalty for inaccuracy or favoritism is brutal – readers won’t stand for it. And the readers are exceptionally well informed. Mislead them at your peril.

    This paragraph could only be written by someone who doesn’t spend much time reading sports journalism.

  16. 16
    BGinCHI says:

    @TaMara (BHF): Because they want us to so aggressively to love them we must also hate them with alacrity.

  17. 17
    White Trash Liberal says:

    Te’o just needed to put his story on gold plates.

  18. 18
    FridayNext says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Isn’t that what I said? I used the contraction “couldn’t” rather than writing out like you did, but how big a difference is that? But I meant what you said if people think I didn’t say it right.

  19. 19
    Ailuridae says:

    I suppose Deadspin is more adversarial than ESPN or local press coverage but they sit on plenty of stories too.

  20. 20
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @TaMara (BHF):

    I have to wonder why Manti Te’o’s humiliation is anyone’s business

    TOTALLY agree.

    Typical that this story, about such a minor, panty sniffing event, is that type of thing that gets such huge press.

    Manti is history’s greatest monster.

    George W Bush walks free and prospers.

    Society is SO fucking sick.

  21. 21
    TooManyJens says:

    @TaMara (BHF): I think the fact that so many media outlets ran with the story without checking (or even after checking and finding that they couldn’t verify it) is interesting. I wish I thought the media would find it instructive in any way, but they won’t.

  22. 22
    Cassidy says:

    @Hunter Gathers: I’d back up a bit. This is anecdotal, but I’m from where Tebow went to school and a friend of mine was one of his tutors in college, and by all accounts he’s a nice person. More than likely, he has personal beliefs that are the exact opposite of ours, but I’ve never heard of him mistreating people or being a douche (in public). So take from that what you will, but comparing him to a guy who may have concoted a fake story to drive up his Heisman chances isn’t really fair.

    @TaMara (BHF): It’s not really. OTOH, this is the unfortunate fate of the publicly religious. If you’re going to use your religion as a cudgel, then you best be on your best behavior. I am making the assumption that this story was concocted from the beginning, only because I find it highly implausible that he is such a young and naive man-boy living in a bubble.

    @J. Michael Neal: Most of them just write two articles explaining how contrary positions are the right one.

  23. 23
    jayackroyd says:

    “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

    Hah.

  24. 24
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    I have to wonder why Manti Te’o’s humiliation is anyone’s business

    @TaMara (BHF): What humiliation? This was a deliberate scam, by him and his buddies, to win the Heisman.

    He got caught.

  25. 25
    Cassidy says:

    This was a deliberate scam, by him and his buddies, and Notre Dame to win the Heisman.

  26. 26
    Ailuridae says:

    @J. Michael Neal:

    This paragraph could only be written by someone who doesn’t spend much time reading sports journalism.

    Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. I obsessively read coverage of two NBA teams, and one each of the other major sports and the coverage locally is almost entirely misinformed and non-confrontational outside of a handful of good blogs run like the Great Orange Satan. I can’t honestly think of the last time a beat writer of any of my teams got it substantially right.

  27. 27
    FridayNext says:

    @TaMara (BHF):

    I have to wonder why Manti Te’o’s humiliation is anyone’s business

    I would answer because he made the original sob story everyone’s business. I get tired of public figures of all stripes parading their private lives in front of the public and then claiming foul and privacy when they lose control of the narrative. The media is wild tiger ride and if you chose to ride for your personal gain, you don’t get to get off when you want.

  28. 28
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: And your proof of that is____?

  29. 29
    jayackroyd says:

    @ant: Yeah, but it was an interview. And I’ve rather liked the current trend among newspaper editors NOT to clean up the grammar in an interview.

    (Now, if they would just routinely post the interview transcripts, life would be perfect.)

  30. 30
    jayackroyd says:

    @ant: Oh, and the butchering of the subjunctive. I hate that. It makes my teeth ache. But that’s how people talk.

  31. 31

    On the local newspaper level, I liked this piece in the Awl about the rightward lurch of the San Diego Union Tribune. http://www.theawl.com/2013/01/.....ore-154007

    Good Media Matters piece on the same topic. http://mediamatters.org/blog/2.....une/191710

  32. 32
    Cassidy says:

    @Ailuridae: There are still some gems out there. Ben Fowlkes for MMA Junkie is excellent, if you’re an MMA fan. Some of the SB Nation staff writers are good.

  33. 33
    Ted & Hellen says:

    In America, the less important a story is, the more coverage it will receive.

    Must keep the masses distracted.

  34. 34
    trollhattan says:

    Even though I watch football I had never heard of this guy, so was instantly sick of him when this story broke (yet which a crapload of people seem to thing is a really beeeeg dealio). Publicists run amok is as dog-bites-man as it comes. That this guy seems to conflate reality and fiction could potentially add to the head-injury initiative, but will probably just shuffle some NFL team draft boards a bit.

    If Al Davis were alive, he’d make the guy his first pick.

  35. 35
    Culture of Truth says:

    Most sports reporters are older and wiser and smarter than the athletes they cover, and while often in awe of their athleticism, are not awed by the men themselves, far from it. Also, they already have access, and usually can get a good quote or two. So unlike beltway pundits covering politicians, they can often (not always) be brutally honest about an athlete’s physical and moral shortcomings.

  36. 36
    jayackroyd says:

    @BGinCHI: See Fallows Breaking the News

    The Sunday shows are pure Village. They set the agenda for the weekly DC news cycle. They’re sponsored by defense contractors. They don’t need viewers outside the Beltway.

    We mock them. Culture of Truth mocks them almost every Sunday. They don’t care. Because we don’t matter.

  37. 37
    Hunter Gathers says:

    @Cassidy: You obviously missed the anti-abortion ad he cut with his mommy that aired during the Super Bowl a few years back. Focus on the Family put up the money for it. That alone makes him a bigoted pig fucker.

  38. 38
    Brendan in NC says:

    @Cassidy: RE: Hunter Gathers – you are correct. I work wih someone from the UF area who has seen and dealt with Tebow, and they can’t say enough about what a great person he is.

  39. 39
    Culture of Truth says:

    oh sure you miss one day….

  40. 40
    Chyron HR says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Ha ha, I get it, it’s funny because you think we should be talking about important topics, like what an ugly gorilla the first lady is.

  41. 41
    Ailuridae says:

    @Cassidy:

    I was referring broadly to the SBNation group of blogs when I mentioned the Great Orange Satan (Markos owns/owned some large portion of them). Canis Hoopus and Blogging the Boys are consistently excellent and South Side Sox is indispensable for me.

  42. 42
    J. Michael Neal says:

    @Ailuridae: Joe Posnanski at the Kansas City Star is fantastic, though he’s a columnist rather than a beat writer. If you’re a fan of a major sport, you can undoubtedly find good reporting somewhere, but it’s unlikely that it’s in your local paper.

    My number one sport is NCAA women’s hockey, so I don’t get good journalism. The closest thing is U.S. College Hockey Online, which is as deep into the tank of access journalism as it’s possible to find covering anything.

  43. 43
    FridayNext says:

    @Ailuridae:

    I am what a lot of sports fans derisively call a “casual fan.” I love to watch a good game in many sports, but I don’t read a lot of sports journalism or follow “my teams” in the press or find out a lot about them. (I don’t care who their girl friends or wives are) And it isn’t so much that the journalism is poor, necessarily, but that most of it seems to me to be slanted toward building mythic narratives around the actual play on the field rather than offering much insight into the sport. The latter exists, obviously, but it is watered down with myth. (Being a Ravens fan I am amused by the “blue collar team from a blue collar town” crap. On the other hand I am happy to see the “football player as warrior” narrative has faded now that we have actual warriors to compare the players to) This is why this story fascinates me so much. The whole enterprise of Mainstream Sports Media is shown to be a sham.

  44. 44
    jayackroyd says:

    @Culture of Truth: Yeah, but I think the sport section is more like the style section than the news section. While it doesn’t generate ads, a sports section–even in the Times–generates circulation. (It has to, because it doesn’t generate ads, and costs a fortune.) And you need access to write the fan-friendly stories that sell papers.

    National stories like this wacko special don’t fall into this category. But I think the guy remarking that Deadspin doesn’t give a fuck about who they offend has a point. Certainly wrt Notre Dame.

  45. 45
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Chyron HR:

    Wow.

    Why would you suggest the first lady looks like an “ugly gorilla?”

    Projection is a powerful thing.

  46. 46

    @Cassidy:

    only because I find it highly implausible that he is such a young and naive man-boy living in a bubble.

    I don’t know the man, but speaking as someone raised in a religious bubble, I was pretty darned naive even when I graduated from college.

    It took about a year or two post-college living in the real world and discovering that the workings of a church aren’t that different from the workings of any other human endeavor for my naivety to give way to sarcastic cynicism. (Which I’m trying rather unsuccessfully to change for the new year.)

    Point being, I think it’s plausible that he was a kid who was fooled and placed more weight on an online relationship than he should have and shot his mouth off about how they were meeting and all that.

    Not likely, but plausible.

  47. 47
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @ericblair:

    Access journalism means you talk to important people in big offices and at fancy parties, and these people tell you how special you are and how much they like you.

    You get called nicknames by the Preznit, and furthermore, you are parked directly in front of chafing dishes with cocktail weenies, tiger shrimp, and plenty of cocktails as you wait your turn on the tire swing.

  48. 48
    The Moar You Know says:

    @ranchandsyrup: My birthplace and current residence. That’s a great article. Gotta read “Under the Perfect Sun”.

  49. 49
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cassidy:

    DING DING DING DING DING!

    The Notre Dame football La Cosa Nostra is in up to its eyeballs in this hoax. Every fucking step of the way.

  50. 50

    @The Moar You Know: Yeah was thinking about picking up Under the Perfect Sun as well.

    I’m a north county person. I quit the UT a while back but would still read the NC times until the UT bought it.

    Manchester would make San Diego like that laughable Citadel place up in Idaho, if people would let him.

  51. 51
    Forum Tramsmitted Disease says:

    @Ted & Hellen: Dude, I thought you loved football.

    At least the parts where boys get raped in the shower by their coaches.

  52. 52
    jayackroyd says:

    @Culture of Truth: lol

    We miss you.

    Mocking.

  53. 53
    FridayNext says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    In America, the less important a story is, the more coverage it will receive.
    Must keep the masses distracted.

    Four points:

    1. Wasn’t it Kissinger that said the reason university politics is so violent is because the stakes are so low? I think the same thing is true of most invective around sports.

    2. I disagree with your insinuation that it is the media who is distracting the masses. Truth is, the masses don’t need to be convinced to take their soma. They WANT to be distracted. If hard hitting, myth breaking sports journalism sold that is what they would write.

    3. In America? Seriously? Have you not seen British tabloids and “regular” press. American journalists are pikers compared to them.

    4. You are still around discussing this. It must hold some appeal for you.

  54. 54
    vor says:

    Iraq war reporting also illustrated the difference. McClatchy got the story right while the access journalists were fooled.

  55. 55
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Comrade Dread: I’m in a similar place. I think that Te’o was genuinely fooled, because he doesn’t seem all that bright, honestly — but he also kept concocting saccharine romantic stories because he felt uncomfortable with how everyone would think he was weird for having a girlfriend he never actually met. He only verrrrrry slowwwwwly got suspicious. And for me the funniest part, in like a Ricky Gervais/Larry David kind of way, is that apparently he and his parents would talk to the hoaxster woman for hours about the Bible. Just imagine being that woman and having your part of the prank turn into a tedious burden like that.

  56. 56
    Cacti says:

    Here in the Phoenix area, the local alt-weekly New Times does much better investigative reporting than the Gannett-owned Arizona Republic.

  57. 57
    Cassidy says:

    @Hunter Gathers: No, I didn’t miss that. That would be the whole “he has some personal beliefs we don’t agree with” thing. I was not aware I was being to subtle. But, something to bear in mind: if you are aware of Tebow’s story at all, you’ll see a young athlete who rose to prominence due to the actions of his mother. I wasn’t surprsied at all by the commercial. I am also not surprised to not see anything since then when he has gotten out on his own away from that influence.

    @Ailuridae: I was completely unaware of that connection.

    @Comrade Dread: Point taken. And you’re right. It is plausible. I guess I’m just cynical to the machinations of college sports and pre-disposed to not like the overtly religious ones.

    @FridayNext: it will keep coming around, bleating the same thing, until it is successful in making itself the point of the conversation. Ignore it.

  58. 58
    Cassidy says:

    Can I get out of moderations, please?

  59. 59
    SenyorDave says:

    @Hunter Gathers: Agreed. Focus on the Family is a hate organization. If Tebow is in bed with those clowns it speaks volumes about him.

  60. 60
    Gindy51 says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I don’t know about that. If they had been talking religion to the woman, wouldn’t they have been using the Book or Mormon or Pearl of Great price? The LDS church looks on the bible as very flawed so they do not use that in their teachings. When the dopey twin missionaries come to the door they are not toting a bible.

  61. 61
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    The Notre Dame football La Cosa Nostra is in up to its eyeballs in this hoax. Every fucking step of the way.

    Whoa.

    Wouldn’t that mean there was a…CONSPIRACY?

    But you always say those don’t happen.

    Does this mean that in regard to this silly sports story, which doesn’t effect any of us in any meaningful way, you have the courage to be a…wait for it…TROOFER?

  62. 62
    nemesis says:

    @<

    Then explain to me why Tim Tebow is still employed after proving without a doubt that he can’t fucking play? Sure, he’ll get cut by the Jets, but someone will pick him up, if only to sell jerseys. They only difference between Te’o and Tebow is that Te’o has some talent. But they are both money grubbing, bible thumping pig fuckers.

    But, but teblow wasnt being used properly at NY. His greatness is simply misunderstood. By well paid front office people and well paid experienced coaches who do not want his sorry ass.

    The bile projected from ESPN with teblow is stupifying. They ran a story about him yesterday. They find ways of interjecting his name into stories.

  63. 63
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Forum Tramsmitted Disease:

    At least the parts where boys get raped in the shower by their coaches.

    Does my writing, the sharing of my own personal experience as a young gay boy which of course featured no rape whatsoever and of which I am not in the least ashamed; does looking up that link and re reading it and thinking about it…kind of…excite you?

    Tell us more about that…

  64. 64
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @FridayNext:

    You are still around discussing this. It must hold some appeal for you.

    What interests me here is the story going on ABOUT the story.

    Like our friend Villago, having been a long time “conspiracy theorist” shamer, screaming “conspiracy” at Notre Dame about a football soap opera.

    He or she is all agog precisely because the story means nothing.

    BTW, I do agree with you about the public being very eager to be distracted.

  65. 65
    J. Michael Neal says:

    Also, one part of the ESPN monolith deserves a shout out: the Outside the Lines operation put together by Bob Ley is outstanding. They do real investigative journalism and talk about things that are both uncomfortable and important in the sports world. For instance, they were one of the early movers on the concussions in football story. One of their writers, Tom Farrey, has done a number of things I’ve enjoyed.

    And, frankly, as pathetic as much of the rest of the operation is, ESPN gets a lot of credit for giving OTL a home and not muzzling it.

  66. 66
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Brendan in NC: I am close friends with someone who was canvassing on the pro-LGBT side of one of those perennial anti-gay ballot measures in Florida some years ago and when she was working the UF campus she chatted up Tebow and he was very polite. She knows fuck-all about sports and was told after she concluded the conversation that it was the BMOC.

    My wife is a UF grad and one of her younger alumni friends was in a class with Tebow and he was very nice to the friend.

    But he did do the anti-abortion ad and pulled that Tebowing crap and he cried like a baby when he and Overpaid Urban couldn’t pull off another championship, so fuck him anyway, and fuck UF fans, who booed NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP WINNER Chris Leak. Obviously a TOTAL COINCIDENCE that Leak, also a Christian but not an asshole about it, is Black.

    Granted, student reporting at the time thought it was racist, but clearly they were the racists for thinking it was racist.

    And this is why all my friends are FSU fans.

  67. 67
  68. 68
    Darkrose says:

    @Ailuridae:

    /waves to another SSS-er!

    Although I’m sort of a White Sox fan by birth, Giants fan by choice. I was half-hoping half-dreading the possibility (before September’s epic collapse) of a Giants/Sox World Series. On the other hand, the eventual outcome gave me even more reason to root against Detroit.

  69. 69
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @FlipYrWhig: hahahaha, I hadn’t heard that part.

    I did hear the part where she called up after her “death” and told him she wasn’t dead.

    Though I suspect he had caught on right before she “died”. He was really squirrely concerning the details.

    People have a very strong psychological motivation to hide when they’ve been played for a fool like that. Te’o lying about the relationship made it much tougher to come clean later.

    I was that young and dumb myself once so I can see why he might have thought it was a good idea to keep lying about it (hiding the truth) even after he knew better even though it’s not. Though myself I probably would have gone into rage-splosion mode and been extremely indiscreet instead of ducking and covering.

    Any cop who’s worked on frauds can tell you that the majority of victims are too embarrassed to report it. And that’s when big money is involved.

  70. 70
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @FridayNext: Truth is, the masses don’t need to be convinced to take their soma. They WANT to be distracted. If hard hitting, myth breaking sports journalism sold that is what they would write.

    Somebody should update Veblen’s musings on sports heroes for our century. Although the book was is most famous for his discussion of conspicuous consumption, with sports fanatics he spends a lot of time wondering out loud why they are so excessively religious.

    Sports fans love a good (fictional) story.

  71. 71
    jayboat says:

    Damn, so much perfectly sharp, pointed and delicious commentary in here. This. Moar please.
    Thank you for validating many of my own theories regarding the condition and influence of today’s media.

    After Napster lit that fuse and the boys were hotfooting for a few years until Apple roped in the tiger with 99c downloads, like many of you here, as a member or consumer/student of media, the cosmic changes were and are hypnotic to watch. Now, as the ground crumbles away from beneath newspapers and pundits ponder what’s next… Even vaunted villagers like Dancin’ Dave are feeling real heat from an ever more empowered and factually-oriented blogosphere.
    Tick-tock… the balance of power shifts a little more each day.
    Interesting times.

  72. 72
    Darkrose says:

    @Another Halocene Human: I’m still having trouble buying his story, but if it’s true, then he’s not just “not very bright”, he’s an asshole. If someone you believe to be in a deep and meaningful online relationship with–to the point where you’re having Bible study with her over the phone with your family–and you find out she’s dying? You get on a fucking plane to go see her once before she goes. You DON’T say “It never occurred to me; I was in classes:, unless you want to look like a complete jerk.

  73. 73
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Gindy51: Interesting point — the story I saw said “scripture,” so I assumed “Bible,” but maybe it was Mormon writings instead?

  74. 74
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Darkrose: I feel like I had seen a story that suggested that he offered, but “she” said that he would honor her more by playing, or some such thing. He’s a football player and he wants to play football. “She” gave him permission. I can sort of see it. (There are a lot of stories like that in sports — didn’t Brett Favre play the day after his dad died? Dying kid says “hit a homer for me,” that general idea…)

    Of course my angle is that I feel like he was so straightforward and gullible that the hoaxsters started to feel bad and tried to come up with a way to end it, and that’s why they killed off their character.

  75. 75
    negative 1 says:

    To all of you who are sure that this is a scam Teo ran to win the Heisman – do you have any proof? What about all of the people that have come forth and said he asked them about his fake girlfriend? Are they in on it too?
    It seems like he got scammed. Right now, he’s just a kid, in college, who told a story that he thought was true at the time. Obviously it’s OK that the coverage then became that he was in on it despite there being no evidence to back up that claim, because someone got the scoop. @Darkrose: Maybe he didn’t get on a plane because it costs a lot of f&*king money to fly from Indiana to Hawaii. Plus, his real grandmother really did at the same time, so maybe he was dealing with that. Maybe since they were pen pals he thought it would be creepy to show up, then regretted it, because he’s 21. But for everyone to say ‘why didn’t he realize he was being scammed’ how about this – because who thinks someone would do this to them, in real life. I personally don’t. One of my facebook friends could be fake, I’d never suspect it. I might even say how bummed I was if one of them died. I certainly don’t think that would mean all of the public would think that I was an a@#hole because they didn’t like my football team.

  76. 76
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @negative 1: Well, I don’t think he simply “told a story that he thought was true at the time.” He later admitted “tailoring” his stories about meeting her in person. But I think he was hoaxed and _also_ told some tall tales of his own. Not to get publicity or win the Heisman, but to make it seem less weird that his girlfriend was a person he’d never actually met. After all, it wasn’t until rather recently that people started openly admitting that they met their sig. other online.

  77. 77
    lojasmo says:

    I could care less, but I don’t care enough to bother to do so.

    Therefore, I care a little bit, but only because it cheapens our national point of view.

  78. 78
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    Who was he talking to on the phone, then? What number did he call to reach her in the “hospital” (surely he called her more than once, yes)? Whose parents did he call after she died?

    That’s what pings the “ain’t right” meter for me with respect to him not being in on the hoax.

  79. 79
    negative 1 says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I think the important thing to note is that he was hoaxed, if you believe that he was (I do). People saw the Deadspin article and assumed Teo scammed the nation, because although the writers picked up on the scam the article wasn’t all that well researched either (for instance – hey guys, what was Teo aware of, or apparently that doesn’t matter until a 21 year old is defending his reputation to the world because you never checked into his knowledge or culpability). Then, after it was everyone’s Twitter fodder, it occurs to them that just maybe he was a victim, but now to some that couldn’t be true because they hate Notre Dame football so obviously he’s a bad man.
    Not every lesson about good journalism should be forgotten just because there are new outlets. They tried a cell phone number, and tried his father once, then published, and f&*k the fallout to an as yet amateur athlete and kid. I don’t think it’s right, personally, so I don’t really rush to praise Deadspin either.

  80. 80
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey: I figure he was talking to one of Tuiasosopo’s associates (I think I saw there were two?) on a cell phone. No hospital required. The “parents” could be Tuiasosopo or some other person in on the scam. “Manti, if you ever need to reach my family, call them at 555-FAKE.” “Uh, OK.”

  81. 81
    cxs says:

    I find this story unduly fascinating and firmly believe he was in on the scam. Reading the transcript of his interviews with the SI guy (Thamel?), his stories are so self glorifying and dramatic, while carefully evasive re meetings with her, that it reeks of fabulist. I believe he also sent texts that suggested he was seeing her in person. As others have said, even if initially duped, he certainly ran with the publicity and couldn’t be bothered to visit a dying girlfriend. (Why yes business is slow right now. What makes you ask?)

  82. 82
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Tuiasosopo acting alone, okay. One associate, okay. Two or more? Too many people.

    Te’o may have been punk’d initially, but I cannot believe that he was punk’d for the duration. Certainly not by the time Lennay “died”.

    Now, as for motive, I offer no opinion. It could have been for publicity (always important in the Heisman competition and the NFL draft), it could have been for the lulz, it could have been that Te’o was so embarrassed at being punk’d that he figured it was better to perpetuate the hoax then be revealed as being that gullible, etc.

  83. 83
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey: You have a higher opinion of Te’o’s capacity for skepticism than I do. I still think he was totally fooled about “Lennay Kekua,” and that the scammers decided to pull the plug when his grandmother died, thinking, “Well, he’s already upset about that, so at least we won’t be putting him in a funk.” To the degree that he was ever in on it, meaning that he knew there was no actual Lennay Kekua but continued to act like there was one, I feel like it was only between December 6 and the BCS championship game. He just seems (to me) like an earnest, naive guy who was mostly embarrassed that he was a football hero with a “girlfriend” who he’d never actually met, because that’s just so square. I suppose we’ll eventually find out more. I like it as a soap opera.

  84. 84
    FridayNext says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    What interests me here is the story going on ABOUT the story.

    How very hipster of you.

    But you have to see that it still makes you part of the noise, regardless, and, therefore, part of the “buzz” that helps keep stories like this alive, regardless of how much you claim to loathe it. You can’t look away either.

  85. 85
    Kilkee says:

    Looking forward to the Katie Couric interview. Bottom line, my guess is he was duped first, then too embarassed to admit it, and played out the story, even lying to his familiy about meeting her. Wouldn’t have seemed like much of a big deal. The evidence that ND was involved to pimp for the Heisman is nonexistent, but then everyone hates ND, so no evidence is needed

  86. 86
    Xjmueller says:

    FSM bless Tom Scocca, the managing editor at Deadspin. I used to read him at his last gig and he still shows up as a writer occasionally. The guy’s a talented journalist.

  87. 87
    Cacti says:

    @TaMara (BHF):

    I have to wonder why Manti Te’o’s humiliation is anyone’s business

    Sorry, but I call bullshit.

    When you volunteer to be a public figure, complaining about the bad kind of exposure is the height of hypocrisy.

  88. 88
    jayboat says:

    @cxs:

    I find this story unduly fascinating and firmly believe he was in on the scam. Reading the transcript of his interviews with the SI guy (Thamel?), his stories are so self glorifying and dramatic, while carefully evasive re meetings with her, that it reeks of fabulist. I believe he also sent texts that suggested he was seeing her in person. As others have said, even if initially duped, he certainly ran with the publicity and couldn’t be bothered to visit a dying girlfriend. (Why yes business is slow right now. What makes you ask?)

    Well, duh.

    To finish my point from that earlier post- isn’t this just an extreme manifestation of the odd blurring of the lines for some people between fantasy and reality? It is possible to cocoon yourself into a bubble until you believe the dogma? In this case it was the football team bubble inside the college bubble, a double trouble bubble if you will. (sorry, couldn’t resist).

    Other examples would include rove’s election night meltdown and the woman who deluded herself into believing she had won the lottery (honestly, who hasn’t done that?).

    Just a few more short circuits happening before our eyes. This one was a bit more spectacular, but still kinda sad that people are motivated in such a wrongheaded way.

  89. 89
    Heliopause says:

    A little perturbed that the media is still portraying this as “oh, the poor fellow was duped.” Even if you completely believe his version of events he lied serially to the press and his own family. My advice to Te’o and anybody else in the world is, (1) if you’re embarrassed about the nature of your relationship don’t talk about it to, you know, large media outlets, (2) if you’re so embarrassed about your relationship that you lie to the media and your family about it there is probably something seriously wrong with it, you, your family, or all three and maybe you ought to do something about it.

  90. 90
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Heliopause: IMHO, he was duped, AND he also told a lot of lies. But I don’t think he told lies to gain anything by it.

    OTOH, I think the sports media loved the story, because they love to find Good Guys in sports (archetypes including “Scrappy Short White Guy,” “Guy Who Found Jesus,” “Guy Who Does So Much For His City,” and “Guy Whose Family Member Died Tragically”), so that they can make a contrast between the class-act Good Guy — Te’o, Tebow, Drew Brees — with the braggarts and thugs (who tend to be, um, Those People, you know what I’m talking about, ahem).

  91. 91
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    You have a higher opinion of Te’o’s capacity for skepticism than I do

    It’s a failing. I default to assuming “smart but evil” over “dumb and sincere”, because the former is less depressing to me.

    And I’ve reached a point where I trust no athlete of any sport to be telling the truth about much of anything.

    I just have a really hard time believing that Te’o wasn’t aware of the scam over the entire duration.

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