The Tribune conveyed an anecdote about them meeting outside of Stanford’s stadium, in a story since pulled from the paper’s website. They never met, Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick insisted Wednesday.
Even a cursory check of Twitter would’ve revealed a series of posts between @ceeweezy51 and @jayrahz on Dec. 12 detailing the hoax.
Why did no pictures of the couple exist? Why didn’t they meet when Notre Dame played at Stanford, where the fiction had Kekua enrolled as a student, in 2011? Why wasn’t there an obituary or death notice? Why did the woman have no public trail other than a Twitter account, as if she materialized from underneath Notre Dame’s golden dome? Why did Te'o’s father describe her visiting Hawaii? How could Te'o date a woman for three years, as the fiction went, describe her as “truly loved,” yet not attend her funeral?
Like Lance Armstrong, Te'o became a story we wanted to be real, a feel-good tale that really was confirmation bias spewed in thousands of black and white words. We built another legend.
Being scammed is a risk run by any reporter. But journalists exist not to build legends but to, best as we can, find the truth.
Five minutes would’ve shown you’re chasing a ghost.
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By Andrew P. Napolitano
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