What a Football Hero’s Fake Girlfriend Tells Us About the Media
If you haven’t heard by now, Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o claims he was scammed into believing he had a girlfriend who then was in a car accident and died of leukemia. The details are too involved to be summarized, so read about it at Deadspin, who broke the story. The larger take-away is how the media (and yes, sports media is still media) completely fell down here. As Michael Calderon wrote:
Te’o’s story was the type sportswriters — or really, journalists in general — flock toward. Here was a talented young man, who in the face of deep personal loss, triumphed on the field. The problem was that there’s no such person as Lennay Kekua, the nonexistent girlfriend whose life and death was referenced by several news organizations. …It’s understandable that journalists may not have double-checked Te’o’s account of how, say, he supposedly met Kekau after a football game. But it’s amazing that news outlets were so quick to cover a woman’s death without any verification — an obituary, local report from the funeral, or comment from the family. …
The Deadspin investigation may be remembered as much as an indictment of the media’s herd mentality than for its revelations about the hoax itself.
Herd mentality. The media? Noooooooo.