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Manti Te’o Hoax: How Much Disbelief Are We Expected to Suspend?

January 17, 2013 7 Comments »

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By now, most people are familiar with the Manti Te’o bombshell story in which his “girlfriend,” Lennay Kekua, is completely fake. Most major media outlets have picked up on it, even though they never bothered to follow up on this girl’s identity in the first place. This story has become several levels of bizarre in the less than 24 hours since it has come into the light, and a lot of that was helped by Notre Dame and Te’o himself.

Outkick the Coverage has summed up the situation very, very well after Te’o released a statement and Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick had a blubbery press conference. Swarbrick, by the way, gave Te’o much more of the business than this girl ever did, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Te’o and Notre Dame want you to believe that Te’o himself was the victim of a hoax and that someone played a really mean joke on him and the school. Since none of us were there when this plot was hatched, well, we can’t say with 100% certainty that it was a plot at all. We have to take into account all possibilities, after all.

Yet, if it was not a plot, this is a sample of the kind of nonsensical bullshit we’re expected to believe:

• Te’o and “Lennay” had a three-year, “exclusively-online” relationship
• Te’o and “Lennay” never met, even though the original version suggested they did at Stanford years ago
• “Lennay” conveniently died before she was to go to South Bend in November and meet everybody
• Te’o is the most pure, innocent, and hopelessly naive person on Earth
• It’s perfectly innocent that Te’o didn’t see her at all, ever, or even go to her funeral

Notre Dame wants me to believe that he and this girl went three years in a “relationship” without even so much as Skyping? That in three years of never meeting this girl or even seeing her face-to-face, Te’o was incapable of catching on to the ruse, thinking that everything was fine and dandy? That the most popular football player at Notre Dame fell in love with a girl on Twitter and lacked both the resources and the compulsion to see her over that long of a time period? And that when she had big plans to finally meet him after three years, she dies? Or that something bad always seemed to happen which prevented an encounter?

To believe that, you’d have to think that Manti Te’o is literally one of the dumbest people on the planet, not to mention a horrible boyfriend. You could also say that maybe they were just friends (though one would think that, if the desire was strong enough, friends who live in the same country would want to meet within the time span of a couple years), or, most certainly, that she didn’t exist.

The story that Notre Dame and Te’o are peddling is not only unbelievable, it’s also extremely implausible. Someone — hell, everyone maybe — is lying, and what’s even more unclear is the motive. A prank? A publicity stunt? An overly-elaborate plot to conceal sexual orientation? We could play this game all night, but one thing in which I feel very comfortable saying is that I don’t believe Te’o or Swarbrick at all and they insult my intelligence by expecting me to accept their explanation of events. If Te’o is lying, he better have a good explanation, and if Notre Dame lied for him, they deserve the storm of controversy that they get.

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