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Posts Tagged ‘Notre Dame’

Katie Couric Scores Manti Te’o Interview (They Share a Publicist, BTW)

Katie Couric Manti Te'o InterviewSo Manti Te’o, who most Americans believe to be a big old liar, visited Katie Couric‘s office for his first official post-scandal interview, set to air tomorrow. While we’re interested in the fact that he admitted to “briefly” lying about the fake dead girlfriend hoax for six weeks after learning that he’d been duped (yeah right), we’d like to examine the “Inside PR” aspects of the story.

We love Katie and all, but no one would call her a sports journalist–and we don’t feel like the scandal is quite big enough to justify a trip to Oprah-land (though the Te’o family apparently considered Oprah and Dr. Phil before settling for Couric). So how did she score this top interview? Well, the fact that the two parties share a publicist certainly didn’t hurt. That’s right–Matthew Hiltzik of Hiltzik Strategies (MediaBeat interview after the jump) now performs crisis comms/damage control duties for both Couric and Te’o, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Te’o chose Couric over both Oprah and ESPN.

Is this standard operating procedure? Or does it raise even more questions about the players involved in this sordid tale?

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PR Disaster: Notre Dame Star Manti Te’o's Fake Dead Girlfriend

Mani Te'oIt was every sports journalist’s dream story: Promising college senior, Heisman trophy runner-up and near-certain first round NFL draft pick Manti Te’o suffers the deaths of his grandmother and his beautiful, supportive girlfriend within 24 hours–just before dominating the field in his team’s upset victory and continuing his streak as one of the nation’s most promising college football players. His heartbreaking tale of grief and victory quickly spreads beyond the world of sports.

One problem, though: it wasn’t true.

Deadspin broke the astonishing story yesterday as a web of complex lies promoted by some of our most respected publications began to unravel and the damage control campaign began.

A summary for those who haven’t been following: Manti Te’o is a gifted football player and devout Mormon from Hawaii who claimed, via his Twitter feed and various public statements, to have developed a relationship with a woman known as Lennay Kekua who he supp0sedly met after a 2009 game between Stanford and his team, Notre Dame. She had a Twitter account with which Te’o frequently interacted, expressing his love and encouraging his fans to follow her sister (both fake accounts were later deleted).

Then came the news that, right after the (real) death of Manti’s beloved grandmother last September, Kekua passed away from leukemia approximately a month after suffering a serious car accident. Manti doesn’t attend her funeral because she had insisted that he not miss a game. South Bend Tribune fleshed out the story through interviews with Te’o before Sports Illustrated, ESPN, CBS, the New York Post, The Associated Press and pretty much everybody else in the media world reported on it. Someone set up a charity in Kekua’s name. Manti Te’o was an American classic: the tragic hero.

And then things began to fall apart.

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