WBEZ | Manti Te'o http://www.wbez.org/tags/manti-teo Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Catfishing the media: Why Manti Te'o's 'official' story makes no sense http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-02/catfishing-media-why-manti-teos-official-story-makes-no-sense-105344 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><br /><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RyanJones.jpg" title="(AP/Ryan Jones)" /></div></div><p>After watching the Dr. Phil interview and obsessively tracking this story on the internet, something about the given explanation for the Manti Te&rsquo;o scandal&mdash;that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo acted alone and Te&rsquo;o wasn&rsquo;t in on it&mdash;doesn&rsquo;t make sense to me. Before Tuiasosopo &ldquo;came out,&rdquo; there were three theories about the case. I talked about them in my <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-01/internet-hoax-century-why-manti-teo-wont-come-out-about-truth-105018">previous piece </a>on Te&#39;o. To recap:</p><p><strong>Theory #1</strong></p><p>Manti Te&rsquo;o was being &ldquo;catfished.&rdquo; Tuiasosopo carried on Lennay Kekua completely without Te&rsquo;o&rsquo;s knowledge. Tuiasosopo orchestrated this hoax for years without Te&rsquo;o or any of his family members knowing about it and only a few people being the wiser. This makes Manti Te&rsquo;o cartoonishly gullible&mdash;of Kenneth in <em>30 Rock </em>proportions.</p><p><strong>Theory #2</strong></p><p>Manti Te&rsquo;o was working with Tuiasosopo to orchestrate the hoax&mdash;for publicity. Te&rsquo;o was in the running for the Heisman trophy, and the sensational details of the Lennay Kekua story (especially its over-the-top tearjerker qualities) would be enough to clinch it. Fake dead girlfriend + dead grandmother = Heisman. Except #oops.</p><p><strong>Theory #3</strong></p><p>Manti Te&rsquo;o is gay and was in a relationship with Tuiasosopo, who used Lennay Kekua to cover up their relationship. On top of attending one of the most conservative religious schools in the country, as a devout Mormon, while practicing a sport that&rsquo;s never had an openly gay player, it makes sense that Te&rsquo;o would want to hide his sexuality. You almost can&rsquo;t blame him, except for that whole manipulating everyone thing.</p><p>Even though Tuiasosopo has &ldquo;set the record straight&rdquo; (puns!) and has proven Theory #1 to be &ldquo;correct,&rdquo; I&rsquo;m still confused. Call me a pessimist or a conspiracy theorist, but I&rsquo;m calling bull on the Te&rsquo;o story. I don&rsquo;t have all the answers, and Te&rsquo;o could very well be telling the truth (that he didn&rsquo;t know about Lennay Kekua) but a lot of things don&rsquo;t add up in his story.</p><p>These are the problems I have with the official version, and I&rsquo;m going to break them down, <em>Law and Order</em>-style.</p><p><strong>Exhibit A.</strong></p><p>Te&rsquo;o alternately claimed that he met Lennay Kekua at a Stanford game in 2009 and that he met her through a cousin. According to Deadspin, &ldquo;Kekua, a Stanford student, swaps phone numbers with Te&#39;o.&rdquo; The<em> South Bend Tribune</em> explains further:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;It never felt like a chance meeting, although it probably appeared that way from the outside looking in. Their stares got pleasantly tangled, then Manti Te&rsquo;o extended his hand to the stranger with a warm smile and soulful eyes. They could have just as easily brushed past each other and into separate sunsets. Te&rsquo;o had plenty to preoccupy himself that November weekend in Palo Alto, Calif., back in 2009.</p><p>&ldquo;Lennay Kekua was a Stanford student and Cardinal football fan when the two exchanged glances, handshakes and phone numbers that fateful weekend three seasons ago. She was gifted in music, multi-lingual, had dreams grounded in reality and the talent to catch up to them. The plan was for Kekua to spend extensive time with the whole Te&rsquo;o family when upwards of 40 of them came to South Bend in mid-November for ND&rsquo;s Senior Day date with Wake Forest.<br /><br />&ldquo;&lsquo;They started out as just friends,&rsquo; Brian Te&rsquo;o said. &lsquo;Every once in a while, she would travel to Hawaii, and that happened to be the time Manti was home, so he would meet with her there. But within the last year, they became a couple.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p><strong>Questions:</strong></p><p>1. If Tuiasosopo was acting as Lennay without Te&rsquo;o&rsquo;s knowledge, how could Te&rsquo;o have met her at that football game? Who did Te&rsquo;o meet? Who was Te&rsquo;o staring at?</p><p>2. How could Kekua have visited him in Hawaii?</p><p>3. How could they have had a chance meeting if Te&rsquo;o also claims that he and Kekua were hooked up through his cousin?</p><p><strong>Food For Thought</strong>:</p><p>Manti Te&rsquo;o &ldquo;met&rdquo; Kekua in 2009, and they dated for two years before making it &ldquo;official,&rdquo; which would have occurred in 2011. They then dated for a year before her &ldquo;untimely&rdquo; death in 2012. That&rsquo;s a long time to acquaint someone you later end up dating without getting even a hug out of the deal.</p><p><strong>Exhibit B.</strong></p><p>This part is too good. This is all direct from <a href="http://deadspin.com/5976517/manti-teos-dead-girlfriend-the-most-heartbreaking-and-inspirational-story-of-the-college-football-season-is-a-hoax"><em>Deadspin</em></a>:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Kekua&#39;s funeral takes place in Carson, Calif&hellip;Te&#39;o skips the funeral, <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/dec/10/sports/la-sp-1211-dwyre-manti-teo-20121211">saying Kekua had insisted that he not miss a game</a> (<em>Los Angeles Times</em>). Her casket is closed at 9 a.m. Pacific time, <a href="http://www.und.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/100412aaa.html">according to Te&#39;o</a>. That night, Notre Dame beats Michigan, 13-6, to go to 4-0, the school&#39;s best start in a decade. Te&#39;o intercepts two passes. After the game, he says of Lennay: &lsquo;All she wanted was some white roses. So I sent her roses and sent her two picks along with that.&rsquo; Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly awards the game ball to Lennay Kekua, handing it to Te&#39;o to &lsquo;take back to Hawaii.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p><strong>Questions:</strong></p><p>1. For Tuiasosopo&rsquo;s story to be true, Te&rsquo;o would have to have never met her, or he would know the truth. So, if you&rsquo;ve never met your girlfriend, wouldn&rsquo;t you take this as an opportunity to actually meet her in person? If you are as in love as Manti Te&rsquo;o claims he was, wouldn&rsquo;t you want to say goodbye?</p><p>2. If Te&rsquo;o planned on paying respects to her in Hawaii (which expected when your long-distance girlfriend dies, and doubly if you&rsquo;ve never met her in person), he would have had to travel to meet her family and see the gravesite, both of which do not exist. One cannot have a family if one is not real. If he did go to Hawaii to mourn Kekua, who did he visit? What grave would he have gone to? And if he didn&rsquo;t go, why? Did Kekua also conveniently insist that he never miss a practice?</p><p>3. Where did he send the roses and the picks to? If Lennay is dead and no one is around to receive them, where would they have gone? If they were received by a family member of Lennay&rsquo;s, which don&rsquo;t exist, wouldn&rsquo;t Te&rsquo;o have to call them? If Te&rsquo;o did speak with one of Kekua&rsquo;s fake family members, who would he have been speaking to?</p><p><strong>Food For Thought:</strong></p><p>On an unrelated note, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo demonstrated the &quot;Lennay Kekua voice&quot; for Dr. Phil this week, which matched the voice from the messages she left Te&#39;o. How do we know that he was using that voice to dupe Te&#39;o and that the intended dupe wasn&#39;t other people? If you need a fake girlfriend, wouldn&#39;t it be helpful to have someone leaving voices on your answering machine that you can leak to the media later after she bites the Great Bucket in the Sky? Wouldn&#39;t it be helpful to have someone who would be able to speak to friends, family, teammates or reporters as Lennay? Just because Tuiasosopo does good voice work doesn&#39;t mean that Te&#39;o didn&#39;t know about it. Discuss.</p><p><strong>Exhibit C.</strong></p><p>Also from <em>Deadspin</em>:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Te&#39;o and Tuiasosopo definitely know each other. In May 2012, Te&#39;o was <a href="https://twitter.com/MTeo_5/status/205033831286312960">retweeting Tuiasosopo</a>, who had mentioned going to Hawaii. Wrote Te&#39;o, &lsquo;sole&rsquo;&mdash;&lsquo;bro,&rsquo; in Samoan&mdash;&lsquo;u gotta come down.&rsquo; In June, Te&#39;o wished Tuiasosopo <a href="https://twitter.com/MTeo_5/statuses/218008975738806272">a happy birthday</a>. How they know each other isn&#39;t clear. We spoke to a woman we&#39;ll call Frieda, who had suggested on Twitter back in December that there was something fishy about Lennay Kekua. She was Facebook friends with Titus Tuiasosopo, so we asked her if she knew anything about Ronaiah.</p><p>&ldquo;&lsquo;Manti and Ronaiah are family,&rsquo; she said, &lsquo;or at least family friends.&rsquo;&nbsp; She told us that the Tuiasosopos had been on-field guests (of Te&#39;o or someone else, she didn&#39;t know) for the Nov. 24 Notre Dame-USC game in Los Angeles. USC was unable to confirm this, but a tweet from Tuiasosopo&#39;s since-deleted account suggests he and Te&#39;o did see each other on that West Coast trip. &lsquo;Great night with my bro @MTeo_5! #Heisman #574L,&rsquo; Ronaiah tweeted on Nov. 23, the night before the game.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p><strong>Questions:</strong></p><p>1. So, Kekua didn&rsquo;t meet with Te&rsquo;o at that Stanford game, and Tuiasosopo did. Then why would Te&rsquo;o lie and say he did meet her?</p><p>2. Isn&rsquo;t it a doozy that the night Te&rsquo;o says that he met up Kekua for the first time is also the night he met up with Tuiasosopo, the guy who was pretending to be her? Coincidence?</p><p><strong>Food For Thought:</strong></p><p>Kekua couldn&rsquo;t have gone to Hawaii if she was a fake person who cannot travel, cannot buy a plane ticket and can&rsquo;t complain about the airline food. However, on his Twitter account, Tuiasosopo mentions going to Hawaii. Tuiasosopo was also in a car wreck, when Kekua clearly was not, as she didn&rsquo;t exist.&nbsp; If Te&#39;o didn&#39;t know that Tuiasosopo was Kekua, wouldn&#39;t he find it a strange coincidence that his friend just <em>happened</em> to be in an accident the <em>exact </em>same time as the girlfriend he never met? Wouldn&#39;t that prompt some questions? Discuss.</p><p><strong>Exhibit D.</strong></p><p>Again with the <em>Deadspin</em>:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;The hoax began crumbling around the edges late last year. On Nov. 4, 2012, an &lsquo;U&#39;ilani Rae Kekua,&rsquo; supposedly Lennay&#39;s sister, popped up on Twitter under the name @uilanirae. A few weeks later, the @uilanirae account was deleted. The deletion came immediately after tweets from two now-suspended Twitter accounts had alleged that U&#39;ilani was a fraud, that the same person behind Lennay was operating the U&#39;ilani account, and that the images of &lsquo;U&#39;ilani&rsquo; were really of a woman named Donna Tei.</p><p>&ldquo;Manti Te&#39;o, meanwhile, has deleted his tweets mentioning U&#39;ilani.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p><strong>Questions:</strong></p><p>1. Your girlfriend dies and her sister briefly pops up on Twitter. Why would you delete the tweets you sent to her after she deletes her account? If she really meant that much to you, would you save them or &ldquo;favorite&rdquo; them&mdash;to further preserve her memory?</p><p>2. Isn&rsquo;t it interesting that Te&rsquo;o deleted her tweets right after she was beginning to be exposed as a fraud? Why would he do that? What purpose would deleting your tweets about someone even serve, except to hide the fact that person ever existed?</p><p><strong>Food For Thought:</strong></p><p>Manti Te&rsquo;o admits that he lied to his father about meeting Kekua in person and that he &ldquo;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/25/do-you-believe-manti-teo-katie-couric-interview_n_2545647.html">briefly</a>&rdquo; continued the charade after finding out it was a hoax. He refers to it as &quot;<a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/manti-teo-denies-faking-girlfriend-hoax-admits-tailored/story?id=18255156">tailoring</a>&quot; his story for the media, because &quot;lying&quot; is too accurate a word. If you&#39;re &quot;tailoring&quot; your story all over the media, &quot;tailoring&quot; so much that you can&#39;t keep your facts straight, &quot;tailoring&quot; so hard your dirty white tailors come out your ears and ears, wouldn&#39;t you be concerned about your girlfriend finding out about them? What would you expect her to say?</p><p><strong>Exhibit E.</strong></p><p>Elsewhere, Manti Te&rsquo;o referred to U&rsquo;ilani in a tweet as one of the &ldquo;realist&rdquo; people he knows.</p><p><strong>Questions:</strong></p><p>1. Why can&rsquo;t he spell &ldquo;realest&rdquo; correctly? Also, does he know that&rsquo;s not a word?</p><p>2. How can he say this with certainty if he&rsquo;s never met her, only conversed with her on Twitter a handful of times and possibly hasn&rsquo;t even spoken to her on the phone?</p><p>3. If Te&rsquo;o did ever speak to her on the phone, who was he speaking with? Did Tuiasosopo have a voice for her, too?</p><p><strong>Food For Thought: </strong></p><p>Let&rsquo;s go with Te&rsquo;o&rsquo;s explanation that he discovered it was a hoax after Kekua &quot;died.&quot; In his Katie Couric interview, he mentions he found out in December 6, one month after this tweet. Talk amongst yourselves.</p><p><strong>Exhibit F.</strong></p><p>Have you read the <em>Sports Illustrated</em> interview with Te&rsquo;o? It&rsquo;s a goldmine. Let&#39;s count down the hits:</p><p><em>Te&rsquo;o doesn&rsquo;t know when his girlfriend graduated:</em></p><p>&ldquo;I called Mike Eubanks at Stanford to check Kekua&#39;s graduation year. Te&#39;o wasn&#39;t sure if it was 2010 or 2011.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Te&rsquo;o doesn&rsquo;t know his girlfriend&rsquo;s line of study:</em></p><p><strong>SI: </strong>&ldquo;What was her major?&rdquo;</p><p><strong>TE&#39;O: </strong>&ldquo;Her major was in English and something. I&#39;ll double check.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Te&rsquo;o can&rsquo;t answer questions correctly:</em></p><p><strong>SI: </strong>&ldquo;What did she study?&rdquo;</p><p><strong>TE&#39;O: </strong>&ldquo;She graduated in 2011 or 2010. 2011.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Te&rsquo;o speaks with her fake family:</em></p><p><strong>TE&rsquo;O:</strong> &ldquo;She had them all on her iPad and her family found [them]. Her family, what they would do is they would read it to me. And then they&#39;ll send it to me in a picture.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Te&rsquo;o doesn&#39;t know the correct amount of time he&#39;s known Kekua:</em></p><p><strong>SI: &ldquo;</strong>How long were you dating? I know that can be a complicated question.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>TE&rsquo;O:</strong> &ldquo;Oct. 15 was the official date. Of last year. I&#39;ve known her for four years. So we&#39;ve been friends.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Te&rsquo;o hints that they met more times, maybe:</em></p><p><strong>TE&#39;O: &ldquo;</strong>She was just cleared to come to the Wake Forest game, my senior game. It was mainly just on the phone, every day.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Te&rsquo;o knows Lennay&rsquo;s fake older brother:</em></p><p><strong>SI: &ldquo;</strong>What was her older brother&#39;s name?&rdquo;</p><p><strong>TE&#39;O: &ldquo;</strong>Koa.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>SI: &ldquo;</strong>What did he have to tell you?&rdquo;</p><p><strong>TE&#39;O: &ldquo;</strong>I kind of felt it. He was just crying and crying and crying. I just had to calm him down. I was like, &quot;You have to speak clearly, I need to know what&#39;s going on.&quot; That&#39;s when he told me, Lala is gone. That&#39;s what they call her. They call her Lala.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Te&rsquo;o speaks to the comatose:</em></p><p><strong>SI: &ldquo;</strong>When did you start talking to her all night?&rdquo;</p><p><strong>TE&#39;O: &ldquo;</strong>When she got in her accident?&rdquo; (The question mark is in the actual interview.)</p><p><strong>SI: &ldquo;</strong>So starting in April?&rdquo;</p><p><strong>TE&#39;O: &ldquo;</strong>Yeah and you know, she was in a coma. I would try, and you know.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Te&rsquo;o describes his fake dead girlfriend&rsquo;s previous near-death experience as &quot;trippy&quot;:</em></p><p><strong>TE&#39;O: &ldquo;</strong>She didn&#39;t get out. She went from there. Remember she got in the accident and she was in a coma. We lost her, actually, twice. She flatlined twice. They revived her twice. It was just a trippy situation.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Questions:</strong></p><p>No further questions, your honor.</p><p><strong>Food For Thought:</strong></p><p>Friends close to Ronaiah Tuiasosopo and Manti Te&rsquo;o said that they were &ldquo;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/17/ronaiah-tuiasosopo-manti-teo-hoax-twitter_n_2492653.html">80 percent sure</a>&rdquo; Te&rsquo;o was in on it. Discuss.</p><p><em>Nico Lang blogs about LGBTQ life in Chicago for WBEZ.org. </em><em>For more in ambiguously gay conspiracy theories, follow Nico Lang on Twitter @<a href="http://www.twitter.com/nico_lang">Nico_Lang</a> or on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nicorlang">Facebook</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 05 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-02/catfishing-media-why-manti-teos-official-story-makes-no-sense-105344 The Internet hoax of the century: Why Manti Te'o won't come out about the truth http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-01/internet-hoax-century-why-manti-teo-wont-come-out-about-truth-105018 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ap_manti_teo_dm_130117_wblog.jpg" title="(Michael Conroy/AP)" /></div><p>When I look at Manti Te&rsquo;o, I&rsquo;m not sure what to make of him. This year, Te&rsquo;o dominated the college football media because of his larger than life story&mdash;a young, determined athlete who had overcome monumental personal tragedy, including the death of his grandmother and his girlfriend&rsquo;s slow passing from leukemia, to lead his #1 team to a BCS Championship <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/notre-dame-season-alabama-bcs_n_2434944.html">game</a>. His story was like something out of an episode of <em>Friday Night Lights </em>or <em>Rudy</em>. For a college football program seeking redemption after years of underperforming, Te&rsquo;o wasn&rsquo;t just their star. He was their symbol.</p><p>But this Wednesday, Deadspin revealed that Manti Te&rsquo;o&rsquo;s &ldquo;tragic dead girlfriend&rdquo; story was a <a href="http://deadspin.com/5976517/manti-teos-dead-girlfriend-the-most-heartbreaking-and-inspirational-story-of-the-college-football-season-is-a-hoax">hoax</a>. For newcomers to the story, the plot is incredibly labyrinthine&mdash;even Christopher Nolan might need footnotes. Luckily for Chris and the rest of America, Deadspin sums up the number of fabrications involved in this controversy. Here&rsquo;s what we know at this point:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;<em>There was no Lennay Kekua</em><em>.</em> Lennay Kekua did not meet Manti Te&#39;o after the Stanford game in 2009. Lennay Kekua did not attend Stanford. Lennay Kekua never visited Manti Te&#39;o in Hawaii. Lennay Kekua was not in a car accident. Lennay Kekua did not talk to Manti Te&#39;o every night on the telephone. She was not diagnosed with cancer, did not spend time in the hospital, did not engage in a lengthy battle with leukemia. She never had a bone marrow transplant. She was not released from the hospital on Sept. 10, nor did Brian Te&#39;o congratulate her for this over the telephone. She did not insist that Manti Te&#39;o play in the Michigan State or Michigan games, and did not request he send white flowers to her funeral. Her favorite color was not white. Her brother, Koa, did not inform Manti Te&#39;o that she was dead. Koa did not exist. Her funeral did not take place in Carson, Calif., and her casket was not closed at 9 a.m. exactly. She was not laid to rest.</p><p>Lennay Kekua&#39;s last words to Manti Te&#39;o were not &lsquo;I love you.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Because the media loves nothing if not a great mystery, there are currently three popular narratives floating around to make sense of this data and this scandal. The first is the one that Manti Te&rsquo;o is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/manti-teo-statement-notre-dame-lennay-kekua-hoax_n_2490914.html">serving up</a> himself: He was being <em>Catfish</em>-ed&mdash;or lied to on the internet by someone who wasn&rsquo;t who they claimed to be. The second theory is that Te&rsquo;o used his sad dead girlfriend to help him win a Heisman trophy, a theory that may or may not also implicate Notre Dame in helping Te&rsquo;o keep up appearances. Currently, Notre Dame has <a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;ved=0CDgQqQIwAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.com%2F2013%2F01%2F16%2Fnotre-dame-statement-manti-teo_n_2490675.html&amp;ei=kXD5UP-MIqKW2AWnpIG4Bw&amp;usg=AFQjCNFlPGq2BbmeK7LfuFFG3harBfbMrA&amp;sig2=AI50iNVgQRTf2VtPJltX1g&amp;bvm=bv.41248874,d.b2I">stood behind</a> Te&rsquo;o, validating his claims that he was duped. The last theory is that Te&rsquo;o was gay and used his fake online girlfriend to hide a relationship with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man allegedly behind keeping Lennay Kekua alive.</p><p>As the media is quickly discovering, only one of these theories makes sense&mdash;despite being currently labeled as a &ldquo;rumor.&rdquo; If Theory #1 is true, Te&rsquo;o is incredibly naïve and gullible, allowing himself to be deceived via an internet con that even Danny Ocean would describe as laughably elaborate. However, Te&rsquo;o was friends with Tuiasosopo separately and claimed that he met Lennay Kekua, which would be difficult if Kekua were a figment of the internet&rsquo;s imagination. He could have met a girl pretending to be Kekua, but Deadspin contacted the girl from the pictures&mdash;who asked to be called &ldquo;Reba&rdquo; to protect her identity&mdash;and she assured she was not in on the hoax. Tuiasosopo asked to take pictures of her that he then used for Leenay&rsquo;s Twitter profile. Theory #2 is then more likely, although this version makes Te&rsquo;o absurdly sociopathic. But if Theory #2 is the case, why would Te&rsquo;o need her to get in a car accident <em>and</em> die of leukemia to get great press out of it? Maybe I haven&rsquo;t had enough fake leukemia-stricken internet girlfriends, but to me, that&#39;s just overkill.</p><p>Or: Theory #3. He&rsquo;s gay. Queerty gives us a <a href="http://www.queerty.com/dead-girlfriend-hoax-has-people-asking-if-linebacker-manti-teo-is-gay-20130117/">great introduction</a> to this version of the Te&rsquo;o Myth:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Adding more confusion to the mix is Te&rsquo;o&#39;s friend&nbsp;Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who allegedly created&nbsp;Kekua&rsquo;s Twitter account back in 2008, and used it to meet unsuspecting men. Te&rsquo;o wasn&rsquo;t the first person to have an online &ldquo;relationship&rdquo; with her. One mark&mdash;who had been &ldquo;introduced&rdquo; to Lennay by Tuiasosopo&mdash;lasted about a month before family members grew suspicious that Lennay could never be found on the telephone, and that wherever one expected Lennay to be, Ronaiah was there instead.</p><p>It wouldn&rsquo;t be the first time a gay man had created a fake profile to attract straight guys. But why did Te&rsquo;o go along? Why did he <em>build&nbsp;</em>on the ruse? Just last November Tuiasosopo&nbsp;and his family were on-field guests of Teo&rsquo;s when Notre Dame played USC.&nbsp;And Tuiasosopo was in a car accident about a month before Te&rsquo;o told the press Kekua had one.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Although Deadspin interviews sources close to Tuiasosopo, who claim they are 80% sure Ronaiah was Lennay Kekua and Te&rsquo;o was in on it, none of them bring up the Gay Theory&mdash;which is presumably then worse than making up a dead girlfriend for publicity. You can lie to the media in numerous interviews, leverage your web of deceit into landing the cover of Sports Illustrated and be almost rewarded for being the Richard Nixon of College Football with a shiny Heisman, as long as you aren&rsquo;t all homosexual about it.</p><p>When I explained this to my father, who was flabbergasted by the onslaught on information coming out about Te&rsquo;o&rsquo;s falsehoods, he said that he couldn&rsquo;t imagine why any person would go to so much trouble to hide something. He was under the impression it was easier to make history than to stay in the closet. I then told my father that if Te&rsquo;o is gay, I can&rsquo;t blame him for not being open about it. As a Mormon football star going to Notre Dame, he&rsquo;s playing the nation&rsquo;s most conservative sport in one of our most conservative schools while practicing our most conservative religion. If Te&rsquo;o is a friend of Dorothy, he doesn&rsquo;t have to break through one barrier&mdash;by becoming the first openly gay football player. He has to break through three. His co-conspirator, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, comes from a devout football clan, and his family members have played for Colorado, USC and the L.A Rams. When Tuiasosopo quit football, he became a gospel singer in his father&rsquo;s church.</p><p>If these men were indeed gay and wanted to be together, the mountain they would have to climb couldn&rsquo;t possibly be higher, and their decision would come with extraordinary personal and professional cost. These are the kinds of variables that lead professional athletes like John Amaechi, Wade Davis and Billy Bean lead double lives in sports dominated by intolerance and homophobia. (Remember <a href="http://outsports.com/jocktalkblog/2011/09/26/moment-8-john-rocker-spews-homophobia-to-sports-illustrated/">John Rocker</a>?) In 1996, sports columnist Skip Bayless <a href="http://outsports.com/jocktalkblog/2011/09/26/moment-8-john-rocker-spews-homophobia-to-sports-illustrated/">mentioned</a> that Troy Aikman might be gay&mdash;an assertion that Bayless still stands by. (The claim was backed up by years of anecdotal evidence about Aikman&rsquo;s personal life.) Aikman was so put off by the thought of someone even suggesting the possibility that he might be gay that he&rsquo;s still mad about it&mdash;almost two decades later. During a <a href="http://www.towleroad.com/2011/09/aikman.html">radio interview in 2011</a>, Aikman stated that he hasn&rsquo;t seen Bayless since his statements went public, and things might &ldquo;get physical&rdquo; if it did.</p><p>Clearly being gay in the NFL isn&rsquo;t something to be taken lightly.</p><p>I&rsquo;ve never met Manti Te&rsquo;o. I don&rsquo;t know him or anything about his personal life, but I feel like I understand him. I&rsquo;ve been him. Almost every queer person I know has been him at some point&mdash;inventing an internet girlfriend who lives in Canada, going to prom with your opposite gender best friend, asking the girl from your drama program to go steady with you&mdash;because if you have to live a lie, at least she looks like she might be fun to live it with. We know what it&rsquo;s like to date girls and be secretly &quot;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/anderson-cooper-dating-girls_n_2489148.html?utm_hp_ref=media">hoping to meet their brothers</a>.&quot; We know what it&#39;s like to keep your eyes open in your Southern Baptist church while everyone&rsquo;s silently praying to a God they think hates you. We know what it&#39;s like to dance to Britney Spears when you think no one&rsquo;s watching. We understand what it is to be something else because someone wants you to be&mdash;whether that&rsquo;s your family, your football team or the media.</p><p>Look at Jodie Foster. It&rsquo;s hard to come out and have people make an issue of your sexuality&mdash;when all you want to do is the thing you love. You just came to play, not to be a poster child for something.</p><p>If Manti Te&rsquo;o is gay as many allege, then we need to have as much empathy for him as we did when he pretended to have a dead internet girlfriend&mdash;even if our empathy looks like an endorsement of deception. When Te&rsquo;o was saintly and straight, the media applauded him for being courageous and playing through the emotional pain, but that struggle would be nothing compared to the one that faces him now. No offense intended to his fake dead girlfriend, but if he&rsquo;s gay, he doesn&rsquo;t just stand to lose his loved one. Manti Te&rsquo;o could lose everything. Te&rsquo;o could lose the support of family and friends. He could lose numerous endorsement deals, as sports companies who rely on a heteronormative public image might not want to see that associated with a gay football star. He could lose job offers in his future career, as NFL teams predicated on replicating success and sticking to a formula are unlikely to take a risk on making history. They care about winning championships.</p><p>When I look at Manti Te&rsquo;o, I see someone who already<em> is</em> a champion. I see someone who has played with strength and courage on the football field, who was able to be a leader when his team needed him and who helped Notre Dame do what many thought was impossible. I can only hope that real life is anything like football.</p><p><em>Nico Lang blogs about LGBTQ life in Chicago for WBEZ.org. Follow Nico on Twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/Nico_Lang" target="_hplink">@Nico_Lang</a> or on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/NicoRLang" target="_hplink">Facebook</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 18 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-01/internet-hoax-century-why-manti-teo-wont-come-out-about-truth-105018 Manti Te'o hoax: Sports reporting's best ... and worst http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-01/manti-teo-hoax-sports-reportings-best-and-worst-104981 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/neontommy/5215096404/" title="840 by Neon Tommy, on Flickr"><img alt="840" src="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5241/5215096404_b7d42e9207_n.jpg" style="float: right; height: 353px; width: 300px;" /></a></p><p><strong>SPORTS REPORTING&#39;S BEST ... AND WORST.&nbsp;</strong>Deadspin&#39;s revelation that&nbsp;<a href="http://deadspin.com/5976517/manti-teos-dead-girlfriend-the-most-heartbreaking-and-inspirational-story-of-the-college-football-season-is-a-hoax">the girlfriend of Notre Dame flinebacker&nbsp;<strong>Manti Te&#39;o</strong>&nbsp;didn&#39;t die -- and, in fact, never lived</a>&nbsp;-- is the result of reporting &quot;better than almost anything you&rsquo;ll see on any media site,&quot; according to&nbsp;<a href="http://sportsmediaguy.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/teo-story-is-the-worst-and-best-of-sports-journalism/">Sports Media Guy Brian Moritz</a>. But he says it shines a spotlight on the <em>worst</em> of others&#39; work.<br />* Which news organizations swallowed the hoax? The&nbsp;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-10-03/sports/chi-notre-dame-lb-teo-ive-never-felt-so-strong-20121003_1_notre-dame-lb-te-o-manti-te-o-lennay-kekua"><em>Chicago Tribune</em></a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.suntimes.com/sports/colleges/15547573-419/grieving-irish-lb-manti-teoinspires-teammatesfosters-togetherness.html"><em>Sun-Times</em></a>&nbsp;make a list compiled by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sbnation.com/2013/1/16/3884198/the-list-people-who-never-looked-up-lennay-kekua">SB Nation</a>.<br />* Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick&nbsp;calls it a &quot;sophisticated hoax perpetrated for reasons we can&#39;t fully understand. ...&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/college/chi-jack-swarbrick-transcript-manti-teo-20130116,0,7022675.story">Manti was the victim</a>.&quot;<br />* John Kass: &quot;Swarbrick is <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/ct-met-kass-0117-20130117,0,2277635,full.column">the same mealy-mouthed bureaucrat</a> who defended the football program after student videographer Declan Sullivan ... was sent into that scissor lift in the high wind and died when it collapsed in October 2010.&quot;<br />* CNN: <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/17/sport/manti-teo-controversy/?hpt=hp_c1">Dead girlfriend tweeted last night</a>.</p><p><strong>&#39;HOW SHAMELESS DO YOU HAVE TO BE TO DO THAT?&#39;</strong>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/leave-the-presidents-kids-out-of-it-86294.html#ixzz2ICsr38lX">Politico&#39;s Roger Simon</a>&nbsp;(member of the&nbsp;<a href="http://alumni.illinimedia.com/famers/view/19">Illini Media Alumni Hall of Fame</a>) poses that question to the NRA for&nbsp;<a href="http://bcove.me/y6qcsb32">its video</a>&nbsp;&quot;twisting the Secret Service protection of the president&rsquo;s children to aid those who make a fortune by manufacturing and selling guns.&quot;<br />* Jon Stewart on &quot;The Daily Show&quot;: 10 years ago, <a href="http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-january-16-2013/there-goes-the-boom---atf">NRA-allied representative passed law that limited the government&#39;s ability to do what the NRA now says it wants the government to do</a>.<br />* Republican Party chair calls Obama&#39;s plan --&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-obama-gun-control-20130116,0,3325027.story">the biggest gun-control push in generations</a>&nbsp;-- an &quot;<a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ivYeSxu62qvrcxJCXwxYKPxchZtw?docId=322d6701ea8b44539e6cd6714b24be2a">executive power grab</a>.&quot;<br />*&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-preckwinkle-gun-control-0117-20130117,0,4072373.story">Cook County gun reporting law</a>&nbsp;wins board president&#39;s backing.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/has-idea-ticketing-pot-gone-smoke-104861" target="_blank"><img alt="Pot arrests in Chicago" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20shot%202013-01-16%20at%2011.46.51%20PM.png" style="float: right; height: 212px; width: 300px;" title="Pot arrests" /></a></p><p><strong>HIGH EXPECATIONS ... LOWERED.</strong>&nbsp;Although aldermen who backed decriminalizing marijuana possession in Chicago predicted the city could take in as much as <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/02/decriminalizing-marijuana_n_1071181.html">$7 million dollars a year</a> from tickets,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/has-idea-ticketing-pot-gone-smoke-104861">a WBEZ investigation</a>&nbsp;finds the take since the change took effect in August more like $98,000. Bonus: <strong>Map</strong> shows 2012 pot arrests and tickets issued.</p><p><b>WHO WANTS TO BE AN ALDERMAN?</b>&nbsp;Mayor Emanuel says he&#39;s taking&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-emanuel-to-accept-online-applications-for-ald-sandi-jackson-successor-20130116,0,4024057.story">online applications to replace Sandi Jackson</a>.<br />* But privately, Jackson says <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/17619790-761/mary-mitchell-sandi-jackson-brags-im-picking-my-own-replacement-for-alderman.html">she&#39;s picking her own replacement</a>.</p><p><strong>FREE CALLS, COURTESY OF FACEBOOK.</strong> As of this week, Facebook&#39;s Messenger app for iPhone has acquired a button that lets you <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/16/3883538/facebook-launches-free-calling-in-messenger-for-iphone-us">call other Messenger app users free</a> over Wi-Fi and cellular networks.<br />* <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-metra-wifi-20130117,0,456416.story">Metra set to experiment with Wi-Fi</a> on commuter trains.</p><p><strong>DIG THIS.&nbsp;</strong>Construction projects can reveal&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/construction-work-boon-urban-archaeologists-104958">archaeological keys to Chicago&#39;s past</a>. A WBEZ Curious City report reveals some of what&#39;s turned up.</p><p><strong>A FRACKING BRIGHT LIGHT.</strong> NPR&#39;s Robert Krulwich examines <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2013/01/16/169511949/a-mysterious-patch-of-light-shows-up-in-the-north-dakota-dark">a phenomenon that makes the North Dakota skies rival the Aurora Borealis</a>.</p><hr /><p><em><strong>ANNOUNCEMENTS.</strong><br />* Study up. Tomorrow brings WBEZ Meyerson News Quiz No. 2. Last week&#39;s is&nbsp;<a href="http://cpm.polldaddy.com/s/meyerson-news-quiz-no-1">here</a>.<br />* Soundtrack for preparation of this edition: </em><a href="http://www.rdio.com/search/all%20over%20the%20world/">All Over The World: The Very Best Of ELO</a>&nbsp;on&nbsp;<em>Rdio.com.</em></p></p> Thu, 17 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-01/manti-teo-hoax-sports-reportings-best-and-worst-104981