On Jan. 16, a fierce debate raged inside ESPN. Reporters for the network had been working for almost a week trying to nail down an extraordinary story: Manti Te’o’s girlfriend — the one whose death from leukemia had haunted and inspired him during a triumphant year on the field for Notre Dame — might be a hoax.
Some inside the network argued that its reporters — who had initially been put onto the story by Tom Condon, Te’o’s agent — had enough material to justify publishing an article. Others were less sure and pushed to get an interview with Te’o, something that might happen as soon as the next day. For them, it was a question of journalistic standards. They did not want to be wrong…
Craggs, the Deadspin editor, did not think much of ESPN’s assertion on the value of video or its invocation of standards.
“When they talk about standards, they may be talking about waiting for some kind of official response from Notre Dame or Manti, which is just idiotic,” Craggs said. He added: “This is a story about a social media hoax. As soon as the principals know we’re working on it, the story starts to change. They start ripping things down.”