Katie Couric’s Manti Te’o interview: instant reaction and analysis

Jay Busbee

Earlier this week, Katie Couric scored the first on-camera sit-down interview with Notre Dame's Manti Te'o. The interview will air on Thursday on Couric's syndicated "Katie" show on ABC. Check your local listings. We've already seen some segments, including the parts where Te'o tells Couric he lied about his girlfriend-that-wasn't. Here, we'll provide instant analysis of the interview. You, of course, are free to join in with comments below.

• Off the bat, we know one of the most fascinating twists in the entire story won't make the interview: the revelation early Thursday that "Lennay Kekua" was actually the voice of Te'o's acquaintance Ronaiah Tuiasosopo posing as a woman. Would be interesting to see his reaction to that.

• Katie Couric's set is a lot more pleasant than the Austin hotel room where Oprah grilled Lance Armstrong. There are even flowers!

• We begin with a montage of Te'o's history, including a moment where he calls the fictitious Lennay Kekua "the love of my life." Questions upon questions.

• "What have the last few weeks been like for you?" Couric going with the easy backrub of a question to start. Another difference with Oprah, who went for the jugular from the start.

• Te'o emphatically denies that he was involved in the scam. But Couric lets the inconsistencies in his account pass.

[Related: Mastermind was also voice of Kekua]

• "Everything that I thought to be my reality was not my reality," says Te'o.

• Couric does note that Te'o had something to gain by keeping the story alive, but buries her hard question in a drift of cotton candy that allows Te'o to fall back on his own story.

• Te'o still talking as if Lennay was a real person. Make of that what you will.

• Couric asks Te'o if he's gay. "No. Far from it. Faaaar from it." Laughs from the audience.

• Even Scooby Doo and Shaggy scoff at Te'o's detective skills. Te'o's inability to suss out even the most basic details of this case is either astounding ... or unsurprising.

• The Twitter hashtag #farfromgay started to trend immediately. Keep an eye on that one.

• "Either you're the most naive person on the planet, or this is the saddest story ever written." Couric finally starts to get within an area code of the meat of this story.

• Te'o on the voices on the phone: "It didn't sound like a man ... if he somehow made that voice, that's an incredible talent."

• And now we get the bizarre story of Lennay Kekua awakening from the dead and getting chased by drug dealers and ... folks, we've got to be honest, this thing is more off the rails than a child's train.

• This kid was just completely overwhelmed. He got taken advantage of, he participated to some extent ... but he strikes me as just a pawn in all of this. He was used by everyone, from the hoaxer to Notre Dame to the media.

• Was he in on it? Almost certainly. But it's also possible that he deliberately overlooked the inconsistencies because he didn't want to know the truth. He wanted to maintain the illusion.

And that'll do it, friends. Have your say below. Thanks for joining us. Follow me on Twitter at @jaybusbee for more. See you next scandal.

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