With Slow Media Month Looming, Armstrong and Teo Arrive In Nick Of Time

Published on: 19th January, 2013


Manti Teo
With Slow Media Month Looming, Armstrong and Teo Arrive In Nick Of Time  | read this item

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New York –This must have been the week when the collective and hungry media of the United States chose to bash and pile-0nto public figures or delve into the private lives of 22-year old college linebackers.

That’s what happens these days. in the media landscape as we know it. It’s often driven by mindless reality television, papparazzi popping out from behind bushes in “gotchya” games with celebrities, and sensationalizing any story they can in the hopes of squeezing any potential revenue out of the gossip-hungry public, who buys up this stuff for reasons still unknown.

But make no mistake about it. This Lance Armstrong, Man’ti Teo week of infamy is driven by nothing more than the thirst for hard cash, in the pockets of the media.

You see, it’s traditional that the period following the Super Bowl turns into a black hole for those of us who write or speak about sports in this country.

What? You’re not planning to rush out to buy the newspapers to follow baseball’s spring training next month? Doesn’t the final third of the college basketball season catch your fancy? The reality is, unless you’re one of the precious 18,500 hockey fans remaining in the franchise cities of the NHL, or you still follow the NBA even though you can’t afford a ticket to a game, the six weeks following the Super Bowl are a snooze-fest for most fans, with the exception of the most fanatical, or those who will take Furman and the points against VMI.

That’s not a good thing for media companies in need of big ratings and big revenues. Enter Armstrong and Teo, one a voracious liar and cheater and the other, a 22-year old college football player who either was duped or was himself, duplicitous in creating a hoax surrounding his senior season at Notre Dame, but more on that later.

These two must have seemed like manna from heaven for the hungry, debt-ridden media moguls who dearly had to figure out how to keep revenue flowing, knowing full well they are about to hit the slowest time of their media coverage year, the dark, six-week period after the Super Bowl.

So, what, in reality were news stories with 1-3 days of shelf life were blown up into week-long, front page, above the fold, lead stories on the network news programs and publications.

The American viewing and reading audience can blow up their heroes and then tear them back down, all in the wink of an eye. Or, in the wink of a week (an extended news cycle). It makes you wonder if the media powers-that-be, looking downstream at the paucity of high-profile events after the Super Bowl in two weeks, made the conscious decision to pump up the Armstrong and Teo stories from the page seven status they deserved to the front page to squeeze the last remnants of cash out of consumers before the traditional post Super Bowl “dead period.”

Oprah Winfrey, owner of the struggling OWN Network and a former national brand, herself who was powerful enough to get a man elected President, hit the jackpot with her exclusive interview with Armstrong.. Reportedly, her cable network, bleeding more cash than the entire sport of biking bled real blood from the skin-popping needles it’s athletes used for 20-years, reportedly earned a cool 15 million dollars from the interview with the disgraced former seven-time Tour De France champion.

Oprah is once again, so hot that no one is using her full name, anymore. She’s back to being one of those people whose fame renders the use of their last names, unnecessary.

There’s Madonna. And Barack. Or Lance. And Oprah. And now, you can add Man’ti to that list.

Poor Man’ti. Here is a 22-year old college senior who played for Notre Dame, the national runner up in the NCAA rankings. Te’o, an All-American linebacker who has claimed to be the victim of an elaborate “catfishing” hoax, admitted to tailoring certain aspects of his story, including telling his father that he had met the woman, Lennay Kekua. He told Jeremy Schaap, in a recent off-camera interview for ESPN that he was not convinced Kekua did not exist until this past Wednesday, when Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the individual allegedly behind the hoax, contacted Te’o to confess and apologize. All we had heard about, from the earliest parts of the college football season was about his girlfriend and his grandmother, both living back in Man’ti’s home state of Hawaii. And, each woman dying, within days of one another. And, how those deaths became motivational fodder for Teo and his teammates, driving them towards an undefeated season, the #1 ranked team in the country at season’s end, and a place in the national championship game against #2 Alabama.

Man’ti, heartbroken, dedicated his season to the dead ladies. Except, he never met his supposed girlfriend. She was an online chat buddy of his who must have written all the right things to get this young, virile athlete feeling good about himself and this relationship.

It’s a sad story emanating from a very high-profile player and a higher-profile university, where things like hoaxes just don’t happen. Instead of letting the young man sort out the details in relative privacy, this became Page One news for several days running and hasn’t stopped, even a week later.

Word to the media companies. Figure out another way to make your money. Try putting out quality programming in the futureLet’s stop this bashing. It smacks of media pile-on tactics in this reality show world we have evolved into.

Armstrong did bad things, to himself and to others. He didn’t kill anyone. He has been marginalized and minimalized. ┬áLet him suffer. Oprah’s channel made a few million off of this story. Papers are selling (to the extent anyone buys papers anymore) at a brisker rate. We’ve all got out hands out. Hello? Wake up.

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