South Bend Tribune Removes Story About Manti Te'o Meeting Girlfriend, Puts "Cruel hoax" on Today's Cover [Update: It's Back...]

Stephen Douglas

[update] Eric Hansen, the Tribune’s Notre Dame beat writer says this is all a big misunderstanding.

@HansenNDInsider: For those wanting to see the Oct 12 Te’o article, it was not pulled. In fact, we reposted it on our site tonight: Link (1/2)

@HansenNDInsider: Our articles automatically go to paid archives after a month online. So unless you can find a back door .. now you don’t need one. (2/2)

Excuse me while I “LOL.” The article originally ran on October 12, 2012. After a month, the articles automatically go to paid archives, yet at 4pm on January 15, 2013 the article was still available for free. Then Deadspin drops the Te’o story and the Tribune “moves” their original piece. Right…

People noticed the story disappeared last night and started sharing the cached pages on Twitter. Then they re-posted the article when they realized how stupid they looked.


Here are the portions of the story about the fake romance.

It never felt like a chance meeting, although it probably appeared that way from the outside looking in.

Their stares got pleasantly tangled, then Manti Te’o extended his hand to the stranger with a warm smile and soulful eyes.

They could have just as easily brushed past each other and into separate sunsets. Te’o had plenty to preoccupy himself that November weekend in Palo Alto, Calif., back in 2009.

And Manti Te’o is convinced the beautiful stranger will be watching too Saturday, somehow.

Lennay Kekua was a Stanford student and Cardinal football fan when the two exchanged glances, handshakes and phone numbers that fateful weekend three seasons ago.

She was gifted in music, multi-lingual, had dreams grounded in reality and the talent to catch up to them.

The plan was for Kekua to spend extensive time with the whole Te’o family when upwards of 40 of them came to South Bend in mid-November for ND’s Senior Day date with Wake Forest.

“They started out as just friends,” Brian Te’o said. “Every once in a while, she would travel to Hawaii, and that happened to be the time Manti was home, so he would meet with her there. But within the last year, they became a couple.

“And we came to the realization that she could be our daughter-in-law. Sadly, it won’t happen now.”
About the time Kekua and Manti became a couple, she was injured in an auto accident. There were complications during her recovery. And it was also during her recovery that it was discovered Kekua had leukemia.

“That was just in June,” Brian Te’o said. “I remember Manti telling me later she was going to have a bone marrow transplant and, sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. From all I knew, she was doing really, really well.”

Kekua, who eventually graduated from Stanford, was, in fact, doing so well that she was released from the hospital on Sept. 10. And Brian Te’o was among those congratulating her via telephone.

Less than 48 hours later, at 4 a.m. Hawaii time, Kekua sent a text to Brian and Ottilia, expressing her condolences over the passing of Ottilia’s mom, Annette Santiago, just hours before.

Executive Editor Tim Harmon explained the decision on the Tribune’s Facebook page:

At The Tribune, we are as stunned by these revelations as everyone else. Indeed, this season we reported the story of this fake girlfriend and her death as details were given to us by Te’o, members of his family and his coaches at Notre Dame. We’re still trying to put together stories that will be posted later tonight and printed in Thursday’s paper that will answer some, but not all, of the questions about today’s astonishing story.

As much as they would like, they can’t make this story disappear. South Bend continues to back Te’o, going with a giant “Cruel hoax” headline on today’s front page. In South Bend, Te’o is the innocent victim. Why wouldn’t they? He’s their football hero who displayed a similar sort of blind faith over the last few years. You have to wonder if it will turn out any better for his fans.

[South Bend Tribune]

Previously: Manti Te’o Told Interviewer Lennay Kekua Wrote Him Letters Through Stanford Game, 31 Days After She Died [UPDATE: Claimed He Got One Before Wake Forest]
Previously: Lennay Kekua, Manti Te’o’s Fake Deceased Girlfriend, is Still Tweeting, Obviously
Related: “Teoing” is the Meme Where You Pretend You’re With Someone Special
Related: Anonymous Notre Dame Football Player: “He [Manti Te’o] Lied, But the Media Blew It Up”
Related: Lennay Kekua – Manti Te’o’s Fake, Dead Girlfriend – Was Real, Says Arizona Cardinals Fullback Reagan Mauia, Who Claims to Have Met Her
Related: Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick Choked Up During Manti Te’o Girlfriend Hoax Presser [Video]
Related: ESPN’s “Manti Te’o’s Girlfriend Did Not Exist” Graphic Will be Tough to Top
Related: Manti Te’o Statement: Claims He Was Victim of “Someone’s Sick Joke and Constant Lies”
Related: Manti Te’o: Thankful For the Support of His “Girlfriend’s Family” [Video]
Related: Manti Te’o’s Dead Girlfriend Was a Hoax According to Deadspin [Update: Notre Dame Claims Te’o The Victim]