On the heels of Lance Armstrong admitting to doping during an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o has granted his first televised interview to veteran news anchor Katie Couric according to the New York Times, as opposed to a more sports-based commentator. During the interview with Couric, Te'o will be joined by his parents Brian and Ottilla, which will continue to push the narrative that Te'o was a victim in the Lennay Kekua scandal.
Te'o was interviewed (off camera, mind you) by ESPN's Jeremy Schaap on Friday evening, and he came under a lot of criticism for that decision due to the lack of transparency related to not putting his face on camera during his discussion with Schaap. Now, Te'o will once again take the easy way out and participate in an interview that is entirely on his terms. With his parents also on site for the interview, it's a very favorable situation for the Fighting Irish star that will likely continue to further the story that Te'o, his parents, his agents, and Notre Dame want to proceed with as opposed to getting the truth.
This whole situation is extremely fishy. Te'o's spokesman that was hired this week, Matthew Hiltznik, is also the spokesman for Couric. Just that fact alone indicates to me that Te'o isn't going to be asked anything remotely difficult to answer during the interview, and that he'll be thrown softball after softball with few relevant follow-ups.
The interview will air on Couric's talk show Katie this Thursday, but excerpts will be airing on Good Morning America and other ABC News programs before the full interview airs. Of course, because ABC and ESPN are under the same massive umbrella, I wouldn't be surprised to see ESPN also airing clips this week before the interview premieres.
This is all just a giant mess, and probably won't do anything to help Te'o in the long run. He had a chance to clear the air with Schaap on Friday, but that "interview" with his lawyer present only produced more questions. Now, he's going to interview with someone in the same parent company as Schaap, but with a background that will be more favorable to him, and will likely include much fewer difficult questions.
Have Armstrong and Te'o set the bar at a different level for scandal-plagued athletes in the future? The backlash towards Armstrong for the content of his interview with Winfrey is strong, and the backlash towards Te'o will likely be just as strong once we see the content of his interview with Couric this week. It's probably a little presumptive of me to think that Couric *won't* ask Te'o any tough questions, but when you look at the big picture of this entire interview, you get the sense that this is a situation that him and his handlers have carefully crafted to spread their version of how things happened rather than getting to the bottom of the situation.
If Te'o and his team of handlers think this is simply going to be swept under the rug with one interview, he's got another thing coming. More than likely, there are going to be more questions than answers coming out of his interview with Couric once again, and this isn't an issue that's going to die after the interview airs on Thursday.