The Lennay Kekua hoax: A watershed moment in journalism

I was told in journalism, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out. That is an old newspaper adage that warns reporters to check out a story before they send it off to their editors.

Thanks to the events that transpired Wednesday afternoon, now reporters have to see if she even exists in the first place. posted a story yesterday saying that Notre Dame All- America Linebacker Manti Te’o’s girlfriend, Lennay Kekua(I would post a hyperlink here but you know), who died in car accident and was diagnosed with Leukemia, was a part of a fabricated story. According to Deadspin,Kekua never existed.

Next, Notre Dame released a statement saying that they were previously aware of the “hoax” and that Te’o was a victim of a cruel joke.

At this point in time, I have read Deadspin’s story, Notre Dame’s story and  the Manti Te’o statement.

Now, I have several questions. Let’s go through them.

Why did this story come out now?

Why did Te’o lie about this?

Why did he previously state that he met Kekua in a Palo Alto, CA parking lot?

Was there a deal between Notre Dame and ESPN to stifle the story?

Why was he in love with a woman he has never met?

Have any of you ever got into a relationship with someone you have never seen in person??

If he was a victim of a “cruel” hoax, why did Manti says that he was in contact with her?

Did Manti or his family speak with Notre Dame to establish an alibi to cover their butts?

The question that bothers me the most: Why wasn’t this story properly vetted?

I’m thinking no one wanted to be the wet blanket on a story that was so good that Hollywood couldn’t come up with. No one wanted to be the A-----e who checked out the Leukemia patient’s story. Journalists have enough on their plates these days.

SB Nation even posted a list of some major newspapers that also missed on this story.

Bill Plaschke from the Los Angeles Times said this on his Twitter feed:

Lots of Te'o jokes today, but also embarrassing is that mainstream media, including me, bought this story all season w/o checking it out.

I get where Plaschke is coming from. This also asks another question.What kind of person makes this up?

Manti Te’o’s story is already pretty good without the deaths. He one of the most decorated college football players anyone has ever seen. He is going to be some NFL team’s Middle Linebacker one day. Why lie about some of this? I guess that sometimes it’s best to tell a lie long enough that it becomes the truth.

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