Last week ESPN sat down to interview Manti Te’o old school style — behind closed doors and without a camera. But Katie Couric is hip with this new technology called video cameras and sat down in front of one for a one-on-one exclusive with Te’o in regards to the girlfriend hoax he’s eyeball deep in at the moment.
And in the interview, which is set to air Thursday, Te’o gives us a little more of the same: he lied about the hoax.
Not in the sense some people were hoping, but in the sense that he was suspicious about the hoax from the start but pretended like he was sleeping in the same bedroom as Lennay Kekua every night. He also tells Couric that when he found out about the hoax, he continued to lie about it because he didn’t know what else to do.
“Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she’s alive and then I’m going be put on national TV two days later.” Te’o said to Couric. “And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?”
While Te’o seems sincere and genuine, he gets a little too personal with Couric as he calls her by name as if he’s talking about scheming against Alabama in the title game rather than defending himself against scheming the country.
“Katie, put yourself in my situation. I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12.”
But what we learned from Couric’s interview that feels like it was washed over in the ESPN bit, was that Te’o admits to manipulating the situation, and he may not know that he did it. The instant he said he found out about Lennay on December 6th and then talked about it afterwords as if it wasn’t a hoax, like it or not Te’o became a part of it.
He may not have come up with the hoax, and he may not have known about the hoax the whole time but he didn’t dodge questions about it after he found out, he became engaged in it.
What Te’o should have done was avoided the topic in interviews and say he didn’t want to talk about Lennay. It would have been suspicious but he wouldn’t be as involved as he is now.
Couric interviewed Te’o's family for the piece, and while she pointed out that no one thinks Te’o is a liar, rather that he’s a manipulator, even the family seems to miss the point.
“People can speculate about what they think he is,” a tearful Brian Te’o told Couric. “I’ve known him 21 years of his life. And he’s not a liar. He’s a kid.”
He’s a kid, but one that manipulated a story once he knew it was fake. This is probably the worst possible outcome for Te’o as it shows how truly naïve he is. He didn’t come up with the hoax, but still conned us into thinking he’s a con-man by running with it after he found out the whole story was a sham. What Te’o essentially did, was he wished he was a stand up comedian, heard a funny Louis C.K. joke secondhand and then started telling it like he had come up with it himself. He was suspicious the joke wasn’t original but he ran with it anyways because no one would lie to him about a joke.
That’s the logic and mindset that got Te’o into this mess, and while it’s easy to understand his situation no one is required to feel bad for him at this point either.
At the end of the day, no one is dead because of this, Te’o wasn’t whacked out on meth or drugs and no laws were really broken, at least not by Te’o. He didn’t perpetrate this hoax and he was legitimately fooled, but after finding out about it he kept running with the story and acted more like a child hoping mom doesn’t find the broken vase and less like a senior at one of the most prestigious colleges in America.
Manti Te’o isn’t a liar, he’s a manipulator and that might end up being worse.