ESPN Reporter On Te'o Story: "Short Of Asking To See A Death Certificate, I'm Not Sure What Most People Would Do Differently"

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The other angle to the Manti Te'o drama? The media. More than a dozen news outlets reported about the girlfriend who didn't exist. So, why didn't the likes of CBS News or ESPN or Sports Illustrated find out sooner?

ESPN senior columnist Gene Wojciechowski went on SportsCenter tonight and explained what happened with his Te'o story, which aired in October. Wojciechowski says he couldn't find an obituary for Lennay Kekua. He also couldn't find any records about a car accident. Obvious red flags. So why didn't Wojciechowski push further? Because Te'o told him to back off.


"And so in that instance, and at that moment, you simply think that you have to respect those wishes," said Wojciechowski.

Here's what Wojciechowski said tonight (video is above):

Well, I sat across from him and I was moved by his story and it was heartbreaking and heartwarming and as it turns out totally untrue. But short of asking to see a death certificate, I'm not sure what most people would do differently in that case. But in researching it before I wrote the script, I remember trying to find an obituary for his girlfriend and could not. And couldn't find any record of this car accident. But we asked Manti, could we contact Lennay's family and he said the family would prefer not to be contacted. Could we have some photos of Lennay? He said the family would prefer not to provide those. And so in that instance, and at that moment, you simply think that you have to respect those wishes. But in retrospect, you can see where some of those things simply were not adding up to make sense. Easy to say now. At the time it never enters your mind somebody was involved in that kind of hoax


Here's the video of Wojciechowski's story: