Manti Te’o made his first national appearance since the story broke about his so-called girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, being a hoax, when he appeared on Katie Couric’s television show. One of the more talked about moments from that appearance came when Couric attempted to clarify rumors that perhaps Te’o was gay. Te’o dispelled those rumors, but Couric has taken a bit of heat for asking the question. She says she didn’t think twice about it.
Katie Couric joined Boomer and Carton on WFAN in New York to discuss asking Manti Te’o if he is gay, if she believes that Te’o was in fact duped, Te’o’s connection with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the involvement of Te’o’s family, if she found Manti Te’o likable in general and the nation being too quick to judge.
Was there any debate between you and your producers when it came to asking Te’o if he is gay?:
“No, not really. Not really. We didn’t have a big conversation about it. We knew that, from reading what was out there in the ether, that that was one of the theories — not particularly substantiated, or substantiated at all by the way. But because that was some of the speculation, I thought we should ask him about that.”
Do you believe that he was completely duped, other than him admitting that he fostered it after he found out?:
“I really don’t think he was involved in it. I do think, as you said, he sort of prolonged the story after he knew it was a hoax, or after he knew something was terribly wrong. … I guess the big question is why he continued to talk about it at the Heisman Trophy luncheon. But I also think, even before that, I think, and maybe it was because of embarrassment, if you take a look at the transcripts from the Sports Illustrated cover story, the things he said … he definitely said things that were misleading and that would cause someone to draw the conclusion that they had actually spent physical time together.”
Did you get a sense for how close he was with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo?:
“Apparently, again, I think a lot of this stuff is still coming to light, but I think this Lennay persona had been doing this to other people as well. … I thought it was interesting that Manti said that one of the reasons Lennay was appealing to him was he was Mormon, she was Polynesian, he felt like this person understood his values, his background. But I think this family … (the Tuisasosopos) is a fairly prominent family and I think there were people who knew each other, knew of them. But I did ask Manti … were you like family? And he said no.”
On Te’o’s family being involved:
“I thought his parents were incredibly compelling and sympathetic. … They were sucked into this whole thing as well, you guys. They had conversations with this person. Mr. Te’o, Brian Te’o, would send text messages of bible passages and they would discuss them. It wasn’t as if it was just Manti. … He said it was so unsettling for him. He said, ‘I’m 41. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it.’ This whole thing was so bizarre and so confusing, with so many twists and turns.”
It seems like you found Manti to be a very likable guy?:
“Well, you know, I really didn’t spend a lot of time with him before or after the interview. I didn’t want to have conversations with him that I thought were important and not have them on television. … I didn’t really get to know him, so I can’t make a fair assessment of his character. All I can tell you is what I heard.”
On the public being to quick to judge:
“I think that people are so quick to, I don’t know, we’re a nation of judgers and people who, I think, always think the worst of people sometimes.”