First, an acknowledgement:
This is a quote by Tom Brokow right after the first Gulf War started in 1991 and CNN had the only reporters on the ground during the initial bombing of Bagdad: “CNN used to be called the little network that could. It’s no longer a little network.”
This can now be said of Deadspin.com. “Deadspin.com used to be the schlocky little sports blog that could. It’s no longer a little blog (though still somewhat schlocky).”
As of this writing, the Manti Te’o story has been read over 3,000,000 times on the site - (read it here, it’s awesome). To put it in context, a story about the 34 Hostages killed in Algeria (including Americans) has been read 27,000 times on Gawker (the parent of Deadspin.com).
So congratulations to everyone at Deadspin.com. You win. The rest of sports media loses.
The reporters at Deadspin.com (Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey) said they got an anonymous tip that there was something fishy (my word) about the Manti Te’o girlfriend story. They did an initial Google search and found no stories about his supposed girlfriend (Lennay Kekua) except those that mentioned Manti Te’o. It was as though she only existed through her involvement with Manti Te’o. No other connection or mention. That is fishy.
But there could have been other mentions.
If those who masterminded the hoax had wanted to create old media stories about her and old websites and old social media profiles, etc., they could have. It is so easy to create a false persona that everyone believes is real… they might as well be real.
They could have created a very rich, detailed, full life of Lennay Kekua that would fool everyone. People would say stuff like “oh, good for her,” “oh, I didn’t know that about her,” etc. And they would believe it because they don’t care if she’s real or not. She’s on the internet – so she’s real. End of story.
Everything that everyone says as a fake persona on the internet is true because who is going to investigate it? There aren’t enough Deadspin.coms in the world to look into the millions and millions of fake people out there.
If a fake person says on Facebook “I am eating a hamburger” – who’s going to believe it’s not true. It’s not possible, of course, because fake people can’t eat. But no one is going to question it. Because no one cares.
Everything Deadspin.com writes on the internet is as true as everything the New York Times writes. We may not agree with what they write but we don’t question the validity – there just isn’t enough time (unless it’s The Onion – and who is to say that stuff’s not true).
Deadspin.com’s story of Manti Te’o was actually questioned immediately by “the established media” because Deadspin.com didn’t have a strong journalism reputation (to say the least) and most people never heard of it.
But now, they are a go to source for breaking sports journalism – and, going forward, most won’t question what they write next.
Maybe the writers at Deadspin.com aren’t real either – no one seems to be inquiring about that – but it would be really easy to create “journalist characters” who act like they’re breaking real news stories until one day they actually do break real news and become “legitimate.”
Who is Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey? Sounds fishy to me. Extending it to television, who believes Charlie Rose is real? He looks like he’s been dead for years.
The internet is a fantasy world where people can be happily anonymous or happily real. It’s all the same.
It’s a massively multi-player online role-playing game (MMOPG) that we all play every day of our lives.
And no matter how many times Facebook asked for a phone number or a driver’s license or passport for users on their site to make sure only real people are there, the truth is, 20 or 30% of people there are not real. And never will be real and most of us never question it because we want the fantasy to be reality. We want our dogs to have Twitter accounts. We want to interact with “Shakespeare.”
It looks to me like Manti Te’o got caught up in that world and really fucked up his life in the “real world.”
Lennay Kekua had to die because someone would have eventually wanted to meet her OFFLINE – and that is where there is still some truth in the world.
Online, there is no truth and there never will be – and that’s the way we like it.
Jill Kennedy – OnMedea