ESPN reportedly was tipped about girlfriend hoax by Teo’s agent day before Deadspin
For those who care about how the Manti Te’o investigation developed, The New York Times and Sports Illustrated have stories for you.
Deadspin broke the story about Manti Te’o’s girlfriend being a hoax last Wednesday, over a week after Notre Dame was blasted by Alabama 42-14 in the BCS National Championship Game. Deadspin writers say they acted on a tip received on Friday, five days before they published their story.
One of the biggest questions has been why no other outlet caught onto this story earlier. ESPN has said they had knowledge of the alleged hoax before Deadspin published, which makes them look bad for letting the story of the year get away.
The New York Times says ESPN was tipped about the story by Te’o’s agent, Tom Condon. Sports Illustrated says the tip came on Jan. 10, a day before Deadspin received its tip. The network had an extra day to investigate, but they sat on the story because they were apparently trying to track down Te’o for an interview.
There reportedly was a conflict at ESPN between those who wanted to publish the story, and those who wanted to wait to see if they could secure an interview with Te’o.
Deadspin felt comfortable with their exhaustive reporting, and the result is the biggest story the site has ever uncovered. ESPN secured the first public comments from Te’o in response, and also got to benefit from Deadspin’s report by publishing several subsequent stories.
Did ESPN blow a big opportunity? Of course, but they still made out fine in the end and didn’t take a risk in publishing inaccurate information when it came to a complex story. As for Deadspin, well, they got to work on the story and everything has unfolded perfectly for them.