Pete Thamel went on the Dan Patrick Show this morning to clear the air about why he didn’t uncover the fact that Manti Te’o’s girlfriend Lennay Kekua was fake when he did not one, but two articles on Te’o for Sports Illustrated over the past year. Thamel said he truly feels that Te’o was duped, calling him a “dynamic, interesting kid,” a Mormon, an Eagle scout who had much more depth than your average college student (that’s the truth). More depth than say, Eric Bledsoe, Enes Kanter or Honeybadger, right?
How did Thamel, who takes more pride in his journalistic integrity than Bryan the Intern does in his morning deuce, miss the fact that Kekug didn’t even exist? Thamel said that he went in search of facts about Lennay and that everyone he talked to believed that she not only existed, but that she had visited campus. Thamel looked for an obituary, death notice, etc. for Lennay and didn’t find any, calling them “small red flags” that he relayed to his editors, but that it wasn’t uncommon for young people to have a Lexis-Nexis “footprint.”
Essentially, Thamel and his editors chose to overlook that fact because of the convincing interviews from Te’o, his teammates, his coaches, and his family about Lennay. Thamel was so moved that he “wrote around it.” In fact, Thamel said he got a text from a fellow reporter last night who said “The ‘dead girlfriend doesn’t exist’ isn’t in the reporter equation at that point.” What?! You’re telling me that the girl that Te’o was so in love with that he dedicated every game to her after her tragic death, didn’t warrant a little extra background checking? If Thamel had taken the time to clean the tears off his keyboard, maybe he would have thought twice about the fact that there was no record of not only her death, but her existence. For someone who loves a scandal like Pete does, that sounds like a pretty juicy story to me. But, because Te’o was an Eagle scout and played for ye ole Notre Dame, Thamel didn’t think twice.
When it comes to Te’o, Thamel says he doesn’t think he “has it in him” to create a lie like this and was duped “hook, line and sinker.” In fact, Thamel said “I feel really bad for that kid.” Pete, did you feel really bad for Eric, Enes, or Honeybadger? No, you were too busy trying to destroy their futures because they didn’t fit your model of the ideal student athlete and two of them were associated with a man you hate. Not even Manti Te’o wants your pity right now.