The reporting on this story is terrible.
Look at the deadspin article. The whole thing is very poorly written, which I think is a big part of the problem. They build the back story with quotes from articles, but its not clear whether they are actually things that Te'o said. I often found myself wondering "who supposedly said this?" Its an important question. They put things like the stories of the nightly phone calls in quotes, but they're quoting an article, not Te'o. The ESPN article that talks about the nightly phone calls does not quote Te'o. Its just written. The article from the South Bend Tribune has been taken down, so I don't know if those were direct quotes. That's how they build the story of what Te'o claimed. Through things written by reporters that are not quotes of Te'o. I mean, clearly, that was the story that was out there. But how much of it was Te'o lying vs. the reporters for embellishing?
Their evidence is mostly old tweets, and they point to things like Te'o retweeting something as proof that they are friends, but the guy has 180k followers and that's how famous people interact on twitter. Oh right, and this "A friend of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo told us he was "80 percent sure" that Manti Te'o was "in on it," and that the two perpetrated Lennay Kekua's death with publicity in mind." Where's the obvious followup questions? What makes him so sure? What evidence does he base this opinion on? Its important because that quote is getting reported everywhere as one of the main "facts." The only actual journalism in that confusing and poorly written story is the contact with "Reba." That's surprising since the article is written in the style of "look how f'ing smart we are and how much the media sucks."
After that article, you would think the media would clean up their act. But it continues.
We've got someone who interviews the cardinals full back who claims to have known her and the people involved and says she is real. How the hell do you not get more than a pargraph's worth of quotes from that guy? How has ESPN not been all over that guy?
Now there are headlines declaring that his teammates knew she was fake. But if you read the quotes, what the unnamed teammate says is that they knew they only met once, and that it wasn't what others would consider a "relationship." The quotes make it seem like the teammates thought he was playing it as if they were closer than they were, not that they suspected that she didn't exist. That's probably true, but it adds nothing to the story. Did the reporter ask the player whether Te'o claimed to have vacationed in Hawaii and spoken to her on the phone? We don't know.
Then you get this article by Gene Wojciechowski http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/8854472/teammate-manti-teo-says-player-played-girlfriend-angle
He says things like this:
I sat across from Te'o in the fall and listened to him tell his story of heartbreak. You know the details by now: on the same horrific day, he had learned that his grandmother had died, followed hours later by what he said was the news that his girlfriend -- the apparently fictitious Lennay Kekua -- had also passed away.
If he was lying, it was a performance for the ages. And if he wasn't, then clearly he believed, with all his heart, that both his beloved grandmother and Lennay had died within six hours of one another.
That's it? If this girl is fake, which pretty much everyone agrees is the case, this doesn't prove anything. He just says when he was told she died. Did he tell Gene that they met in person? That's the important part. What else did he say? And there's this:
He was asked again about his girlfriend on Jan. 3 prior to the BCS title game, saying: "This team is very special to me, and the guys on it have always been there for me, through the good times and the bad times. I rarely have a quiet time to myself because I always have somebody calling me, asking, 'Do you want to go to the movies?' Coach is always calling me asking me, 'Are you OK? Do you need anything?' "
Are you kidding me? What was he asked? This response just talks about how much he loved his team. How can you say "he was asked about his girlfriend" then quote his response that is all about his team, without any explanation? Are you saying he ducked the question? Apparently he figured it out in late december, so on Jan 3, he knew what was up. So maybe he is just answering the question vaguely because he doesn't want to announce to the world, the week before the game, that he is a fool.
I'll end my rambling. I just think that so much of this is from crappy reporting. I'm not even trying to defend him. None of what I am saying changes the facts. I'm just saying that these reporters are doing such a crappy job that they're making everything less clear. They leave out the basic who/what/when/why/how.