January 17, 2013

What a Football Hero's Fake Girlfriend Tells Us About the Media

Marc Comtois

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.

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Wha? The sports media isn't up to journalistic standards? Say it isn't so!

Posted by: Russ at January 17, 2013 12:10 PM

"Wha? The sports media isn't up to journalistic standards? Say it isn't so!"

What journalistic standards? If there were any journalistic standards left in modern media we wouldn't have an entire category called fact checkers.

Posted by: Max D. at January 17, 2013 1:21 PM

I just trust Politifact to tell me what's true and what isn't. They couldn't call it a "truth-o-meter" if it wasn't scientific.

Posted by: Dan at January 17, 2013 1:30 PM

Like moths to a flame our ADD society demands 24/7 crap.............and they get it.

Posted by: ANTHONY at January 17, 2013 3:37 PM

Max Mercy lives. Max told Roy Hobbs that Roy was a flash in the pan but that he, Max, aka the media, was always going to be there. They build them up and then they tear them down. Thats sports media to this day. And, celebrity outlets like TMZ. Who made Lindsay Lohan a star and celebrity? Marc you are off base on this one. Is it really that important that this minor character get the full press monty? I can think of much more relevant events where the media has failed to do their job. How about 9/11. American media became cheerleaders for the Bush administration. No questions about the huge government expansion - aka Homeland Security. No questions either from media about the war rationales. To me, those should be the subjects for criticism of news media, not an inconsequencial story about a football player.

Posted by: David S at January 19, 2013 6:33 PM
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