Katie Couric taped her big interview with Manti Te'o Tuesday afternoon. It airs today throughout America. Although the Couric/Te'o publicity team has released a handful of advance snippets—Te'o's admission that he lied to the press, voicemails allegedly from Kekua—most of what Te'o and his family will say remains unknown. (Deadspin was originally invited on Katie, but that fell through. No hard feelings, although we do wish we had had the chance to record Te'o's statements two days in advance.) Anyway, join Team Deadspin below as we follow Te'o on Katie along with the rest of the nation. Should be fun, in a kind of The-Decision-meets-Harvey way.
3:01 p.m.: Katie is starting this thing off by repeating the Te'o coverage from throughout the 2012 season. They're using video footage from Gene Wojciechowski's ESPN segment. Why aren't they just re-running that whole thing?
3:03 p.m.: First mention of "Deadspin." And stock Tim Burke video footage. There we go.
3:05 p.m.: Here's Manti. So many light colors. Tom Scocca said out loud, "You can tell he's a clean student-athlete, because he can't afford a shirt with a collar." Katie's starting him off with the softballs.
3:06 p.m.: Katie goes to break! But we get teased with a gay-related question. Now there's a commercial for Disney World.
3:08 p.m.: Katie: "Did you have any involvement in creating the scam?" Manti: "No, I did not." He says he got a call on Dec. 6, and from then until the day we published, Jan. 16, he thought she was alive.
3:09 p.m.: Aaaaaand Katie just hilariously bungled "Tuiasosopo."
3:11 p.m.: Manti says he didn't really say anything after Ronaiah DM'd him and called him on Jan. 16. He says he only talked to Ronaiah twice before that date.
3:12 p.m.: "For people that felt misled, I'm sorry about that." But Manti says he didn't lie about the details of their courtship. "The biggest lie that I'm sorry for is the lie I told my dad."
3:13 p.m.: Katie: "Didn't you have something to gain, Manti, by keeping this story alive?" Manti: "Inspiration... was the only thing I focused on. My story was a guy... in times of trial who held strong to his faith." Evidently there's little wrong with participating in a fabrication like his if it inspires people.
3:15 p.m.: Still no mention of the fact that Te'o's crisis management guru, Matt Hiltzik, is also Katie Couric's spokesman. Maybe that's coming in the credits.
3:18 p.m.: "Our relationship wasn't a four-year relationship." It didn't start to pick up until his junior year. When during his junior year? Te'o's given different accounts previously, and Katie doesn't ask.
3:20 p.m.: "You're reportedly very well-liked." "I hope so," grunts Te'o. Man, that was weird.
3:21 p.m.: Why didn't Manti want a real girlfriend at Notre Dame, Katie asked? "This Lennay person, there were so many similarities."
3:21 p.m.: "Are you gay?" "NO, FAR FROM IT." Audience laughs. What a world.
3:22 p.m.: After Christmas 2011: Manti supposedly tried to meet Lennay in Hawaii. She said her brothers were using her car. She asked Manti to come over to the hotel. He didn't. He doesn't really have an explanation. It just... "didn't happen." Doesn't Manti Te'o have access to a car?
3:24 p.m.: Promo shows we've got some tears coming in the next block.
3:27 p.m.: Another planned meeting, this one in San Diego during his layover. She's in the hospital after her car accident, though, when he plans to swing through. Manti said he didn't want to go visit her in the hospital because he didn't want to miss his return flight to Hawaii. He says he didn't think his parents would have understood. Mmmhmm. Katie's not buying it.
3:30 p.m.: Katie said she asked for the phone records. "A few lasted for several hours." "A few" isn't every night, is it?
3:31 p.m.: "Either you're the most naive person on the planet, or this is the saddest story ever written." Manti says, "I had my doubts," but then he gave the phone with Lennay on the line to an aunt who survived cancer, and Lennay had the rap down. Everything was OK!
3:33 p.m.: Taking the temperature of the room here: We're all really impressed with Katie Couric so far. She's giving him a tough time.
3:35 p.m.: Katie's playing the voicemails. Manti: "Doesn't that sound like a girl?"
3:36 p.m.: Te'o: "Everytime I sleep I lock my door." Thanks for cluing us in, bud. That's a fire-safety hazard.
3:37 p.m.: Te'o: "If [Ronaiah] somehow made that voice, that's incredible... that's an incredible talent." Get him back on The Voice!
3:38 p.m.: Dead Lennay Kekua: Sept. 12, 2012-Dec. 6, 2012.
3:39 p.m.: Katie's a little incredulous about the call Manti got from his undead girlfriend on Dec. 6. "You knew something was up at that point? Finally, you knew something was up?"
3:40 p.m.: Manti says he "didn't know" it was a lie when he told assembled press on Dec. 8 that cancer killed his girlfriend. Huh? Katie doesn't get it either. Manti asks Katie, "What would you do?"
3:41 p.m.: Katie: "This story was working for you. It was a huge, huge deal. Did you say, 'This is my story and I'm stickin' to it?"
3:43 p.m.: We got switched to the Steve Harvey Show on our office TV. Jezebel has apologized for it. We're back on Katie now. But for a moment, Jack Dickey was screaming, "Steve Harvey! Fucking Steve Harvey!" Tom Ley is really amused.
3:46 p.m.: Manti's parents are out. And here's the full MSMK photo, too—we've never seen it.
3:47 p.m.: Brian Te'o just made a joke. "It's Christmas Day, and Manti tells you what?" "Merry Christmas!" Apparently the proper answer was, "Lennay was alive," per Manti's mom.
3:49 p.m.: Here come the tears! "That's my child out there," says Ottilia Te'o. "I am proud of his character." The cut to the old lady in the audience crying was a nice touch.
3:50 p.m.: Manti's getting choked up. He's crying from his nose. Maybe he has the flu? Lots of tears and close-ups.
3:51 p.m.: Brian: "I'm proud of this guy, I really am. And nothing that's happened in the past couple weeks is going to take that away. He's not a liar, he's a kid. He's a 21-year-old kid trying to be a man. And I love him, I really do." This is the climax of a Disney Channel Original Movie. But what will the coda be? Everyone gets into the car and drives to Disneyland together? Will Katie's producers pony up? Is there someone in a Goofy costume waiting in the wings?
3:56 p.m.: They wanna close this out by talking about Ronaiah. Katie still won't say "Tuiasosopo." The Te'os sent the Tuiasosopos some heartfelt prayers through an intermediary, they say. They say they're praying for them.
3:57 p.m.: "Kids, listen to Mom and Dad," Te'o says.
3:58 p.m.: Katie thanks everyone, cuts to an audience full of middle-aged ladies in Day-Glo blazers. We assume they were plants. That was a strange hour.
4:03 p.m.: The Onion wins.