For anyone who thought Manti Te'o and his people were beginning to take control of the girlfriend-hoax fallout, well, it's starting to look like Katie Couric still isn't just your average daytime talk-show host. After getting the on-camera interview ESPN couldn't — and it turns out ESPN blew more than that — Couric appears to grill Te'o on the still unclear timeline of events that seem to suggest Te'o was in on the lie. And in a teaser for her interview broadcast this morning on ABC, where Couric is also a special correspondent, she doesn't back down: "You stuck to the script, and you knew something was amiss, Manti," Couric says. "Correct," replies the Notre Dame star. "Why?"
So Manti Te'o has now admitted to lying — albeit briefly — about the December 8 interview when he talked about his fake girlfriend, her fake cancer, and support from her fake family, even though he claims to have found out about the hoax December 6. "Katie, put yourself in my situation," Te'o pleads. Will she? And what else will Couric get out of him? Here's the full clip from Good Morning America:
And according to ABC, which will continue to run teasers of the interview on GMA, World News, and Nightline before the full thing airs on Couric's syndicated talk show Thursday, she will be talking to the Te'o family as well. "People can speculate about what they think he is," his father, Brian, tells Couric. "I've known him 21 years of his life. And he's not a liar. He's a kid."
Of course, the original Deadspin report a week ago suggested that Te'o was somehow in on letting the story run rampant in the media. Turns out, it was ESPN's foot-dragging on letting Te'o tell his side of the story that stopped the Worldwide Leader from getting the scoop over its blogger rivals. As Richard Sandomir and James Andrew Miller report in today's New York Times:
Some inside the network argued that its reporters — who had initially been put onto the story by Tom Condon, Te’o’s agent — had enough material to justify publishing an article. Others were less sure and pushed to get an interview with Te’o, something that might happen as soon as the next day. For them, it was a question of journalistic standards. They did not want to be wrong.
Of course, Deadspin's tale would go viral, prompting responses from Te'o, Notre Dame, and pretty much the entire country, while ESPN was forced to settle for a deal with Te'o's publicist, Matthew Hiltzik, who negotiated an off-camera interview with Jeremy Schaap that aired very late Friday night and only contained two minutes of audio. Hiltzik is also Couric's longtime publicist, which many think helped her land the on-camera interview over the likes of Oprah, but it appears Couric, like Oprah with Lance Armstrong last week, will not be after just ratings. After all, she's used to a hard-hitting interview with someone very much unaware of what's going on around them: