Katie Couric to Manti Te'o: Is this a gay thing?

Via Mediaite, she’s not coming at this out of the blue. TMZ posted a story this morning accusing alleged hoaxster Ronaiah Tuiasosopo of having, ahem, “intense feelings” for Te’o and of “channeling” those feelings through the female persona of “Lennay Kekua.” How far did the channeling go? Pretty far:

Hoax mastermind Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, posing as the mysterious Lennay Kekua, was the falsetto voice on the other end of the all-night phone calls with the Notre Dame star, the scammer’s lawyer said.

The Heisman Trophy finalist “thought it was a female he was talking with,” lawyer Milton Grimes acknowledged to the Daily News. “It was Ronaiah as Lennay.”…

“Come on, Hollywood does it all the time,” Grimes said Wednesday. “People can do that.”

Tuiasosopo’s résumé includes vocal and dramatic training. He was president of his high school drama club, performs with a Christian band and auditioned last year for the TV talent show “The Voice.”

Kind of strange that Tuiasosopo’s own lawyer is so upfront about how he misled Te’o, no? Also strange: He supposedly had two accomplices, one of whom was a woman — and yet it’s Tuiasosopo himself who provided “Lennay’s” voice. (You can listen to audio of the voicemails from “Lennay” below, via the Daily Caller.) In order to prove that he was legitimately duped, a “source close to Te’o” also released spreadsheets today to ESPN purporting to show records of the many, many late-night phone chats between Te’o and “Lennay.” Why spreadsheets of the records instead of the actual records themselves? I … don’t know.

And yet, there are still reasons to believe Te’o wasn’t in on this. For one thing, the gay theory makes no sense. If he needed a fake girlfriend to obscure his orientation, he could find one on campus. There must be hundreds of girls in South Bend willing to date the Irish’s star player. And Te’o is reportedly devoutly religious so he’d have the perfect excuse for keeping things platonic. In fact, he has dated women on campus and his latest GF says she absolutely believes that he was duped. The idea of him inventing a tragic romance to burnish his narrative before the Heisman vote makes some sense; the idea of him inventing a girl he never met or even saw to somehow disguise the fact that he’s gay, knowing that there was a risk the whole thing would be found out, really doesn’t.

Beyond that, follow the link to the ESPN story above and scroll down to the photo of Diane O’Meara, the woman whose image Tuiasosopo allegedy used as the face of “Lennay.” The same image, partially obscured, appeared in Deadspin’s original blockbuster story about Te’o. According to O’Meara, Tuiasosopo asked her to take the photo in December as a morale booster for his cousin, who’d been in a car accident. That was, of course, just his cover story; per ESPN, after “Lennay” called Te’o on December 6 to tell him she wasn’t really dead, Te’o asked for a dated photo of her to prove she was alive. That’s probably what spurred Tuiasosopo to ask O’Meara for the pic. (If that’s confusing to you, read this Smoking Gun post from last week, which explains it more clearly.) Simply put, if Te’o was in on this hoax all along, why does that photo of O’Meara dated December 21, 2012 exist? Why would Te’o and Tuiasosopo need it? It makes more sense to believe that Tuiasosopo provided it as proof to Te’o that “Lennay” was a real person and alive than that they cooked up a whole new unnecessary subplot together about “Lennay” trying to win Te’o back after revealing that she never died in the first place.

I need a drink.