Te’o, Teaaa-O – Daylight Come and Me Want To Go HomeBy: Jeff Spector
I thought he came across as a very nice, polite, soft-spoken guy. He seemed quite sincere. I can’t quite assess truthfulness because it is clear he did not always tell the truth—to his family or the media. So you are led to wonder, what is the real truth?
To me, this much is clear. The hoax played on Te’o was elaborate, well thought-out, wide-spread, and deliberate. If Ronaiah Tuiasosopo masterminded this hoax, he had help from others, both as co-conspirators and some innocently. According to other news reports, Tuiasosopo had pulled this “catfishing” stunt before on others in 2008.
Not only were their pictures, tweets, phone calls, etc, but there were Facetime video calls. Trouble was, Manti could never see Lennay’s video feed. It was a blank screen. The person on the other end would say,” I can see you and I can see me, I don’t know why you can’t see me.”
But, even as Manti is telling the story on national TV, there were, a number of huge red flags, a huge number which Manti chose to ignore. Either, because he just wanted to believe so badly that the person was real and in love with him, or because he is not too bright. According to him, even some of his friends told him it was OK, she was real.
When Katie asked him whether he thought something wasn’t right, he basically said that he thought it was strange but then ignored the warning sign. And this happened multiple times while the imaginary person went from tragedy to tragedy.
One the other hand, we all know of situations where real live people ignore clear warning signs in their relationships, some which end badly.
So, it appears that we have one, well-executed hoax, one rather naïve love-struck guy who was in the national spotlight and appear to enjoy the attention the story brought him, parents who were lied to that also liked to tell the story, and a tons of unanswered questions that might never get answered properly.
The one thing that really struck me in the interview was this point. Katie asked him why when he was a football star at a major university, full of nice girls; he didn’t want a girlfriend at school. His answer was interesting. He said, “She was Polynesian and Samoan like me, she knew a lot about my faith, my values, she was like me.”
Well, guess what Manti, you went to a Midwest, largely white Irish-Catholic University. There are probably not a lot of Polynesian-Samoan Mormon girls there, even at Church and Institute. If that was so important to you, Hawaii, Utah and BYU are full of those girls. You could have been a football star anywhere you went. Of course, you probably have more potential to earn the big bucks coming from Norte Dame than even BYU, so is that what it is all about?
So, I really felt bad for him and his parents after the show, even though they all played right into the hands of the hoaxers.
Could it be the same simple Mormon naiveté that gets members in trouble in financial schemes and other dubious activity because we are so trusting?