By now you’ve all heard about the Manti Te’o hoax. Details so far are here.
I’m not going to go into details about the hoax, as this is just breaking and I’m sure there is much more that will come out. Here is the point I want to touch on. Within, and outside of the sports media community, there are a lot of justifiable mea culpas being offered by a slew of sports journalists who bit on the story but didn’t do any follow up to verify that Te’s's girlfriend had died, or, as it turned out, even existed.
In a way, the lack of any effort to verify this story is understandable. I mean, who would make up a story of a long distance girlfriend who dies of leukemia on the same day his grandmother dies! It would be weird and just about unthinkable. This guy is a major talent, playing for a resurgent Notra Dame football team. There is no reason why he would do this to get publicity since he was getting plenty already.
On the other hand, these sports writers are supposed to be journalists. Being a bit skeptical, or at least doing some sort of follow-up at the very least, is supposed to be part of the job. Part of the problem is that Te’o is a very likable football player, one that we instinctively hold up as a role model.
Here is the crux of my post. The press, whether it’s covering sports or economics or politics, is always more lenient toward people and subjects they like, vs those they don’t. They will not pursue those who are friends. John Edwards and Lance Armstrong come to mind. Maybe more than any other venue, it very much shows when politics is being covered. Though I tire of Conservatives complaining that the media is biased toward liberals and against them, this Te’o incident does mirror the lax attitude the press takes toward the favored liberal. If the press would have pursued John Edwards as vigorously as they had, say Sarah Palin, maybe he would have never gotten as far as he did as a Presidential contender.
PS. This was supposed to be Lance Armstrong’s day in the spot light! He is going to be PISSED!!!! Manti better watch his back!