Manti Te'o's interview with Katie Couric is set to air this afternoon, and from the sound of it, Te'o has come prepared. The Notre Dame star, befallen by a fake-girlfriend scandal and trying to explain his side of a sordid tale under friendly confines (Couric and Te'o share a publicist) even as the man allegedly behind the hoax plays dumb (he was apparently the voice of fake phone calls), has given Couric's show three voicemails in advance of the broadcast. Here's one of the voicemails, which was purportedly left for Te'o after the non-existent Lennay Kekua finished one of her non-existent chemotherapy sessions for her non-existent bout with leukemia, which "she" was only diagnosed with after her non-existent car accident:
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Earlier today, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo's lawyer claimed that his client had disguised his voice the entire time Te'o was dating his faux girlfriend — and this voicemail is just 21 seconds of hours that Tuiasosopo spent posting on the phone.
The voicemails serve as just one more way that Te'o and his team have tried to seize back control of the story since it broke just over a week ago. When the bottom fell out on this bizarre tale, it was difficult for anyone to believe Te'o was really just a naive football player. Since then, and thanks to a few of Tuiasosopo's talkative friends who have come to the media touting alleged confessions from Tuiasosopo about the hoax, Te'o has looked more and more like the naive victim he promised he was. That Te'o and his team have handed off these very convincing voicemails — that sounds like a sad woman and not a creepy guy, right? — may suggest that his team, after playing ESPN for an off-camera interview, is actually hoping to clear his name with Couric today.
Of course, there are a couple things about the voicemails that do still seem pretty fishy. First off, there are no specific dates attached to the calls as of now. And these voicemails are from Te'o's vault — the ones that he specifically chose to give Couric, kind of like how his team of agents (not the shared publicist) negotiated for ESPN to air just two minutes of audio from the late-Friday interview. Te'o says these are from Kekua, but that's also coming from a man who we already know told Couric that he continued to lie about Kekua on national television. Couric's website reads:
Katie reviewed Manti’s phone records and there were, in fact, dozens of calls, some hours long, to one phone number, the number Manti Te’o says belongs to Lennay Kekua
The one person we haven't heard from yet is Tuiasosopo — apparently the mastermind behind this whole thing. He might have some interesting voicemails which we'd like to hear, and he might speak out soon as well. In the meantime, stay tuned for our live coverage of the Couric interview.