On Manti Te’o Coverage

I’m not about to make any predictions about Manti Te’o’s complicity in the hoax involving once-dead, now-fake girlfriend, Lennay Kekua. I, like many of you, have read the coverage, watched and listened to the interviews, and seen the comedy, woven out of his unsettling controversy.

I don’t know if he knew.

I can’t explain the discrepancies in his and Deadspin’s stories.

I believe in innocent until proven guilty.

I feel strongly that there are more important issues worthy of discussion that should take the place of Brian Williams’ second slot.

So I have mixed feelings about sending more on this young linebacker into the ether presumably for the consumption of the Notre Dame haters. As former newspaperman – now Notre Dame faculty and staff member – Matt Storin (@MattStorin) tweeted on Jan. 17:

“It’s open season on Notre Dame, so get your gripes in now –new or old. True or false. The window will close soon. Don’t delay.”

He’s right. We made a laughingstock of ourselves in Miami and this is just the icing on the cake. True or false.

So when I’m looking at the coverage, I can’t help but notice three trends. First, Manti Te’o lied to his family and to the media, whether he knew about Lennay being fake or not. Second, this will hurt both Manti Te’o’s and the university’s football image, no matter who did and did not know what. Third, Manti Te’o must have a motive, and it might be his sexuality.

The story is not of the man who crafted a hoax to frame or potentially extort a Heisman candidate. It is of the victim who slipped up along the way.

I don’t know what Manti did and did not know. He shouldn’t have lied to the media and to his parents, but I understand his self-conscious reasoning that his relationship was abnormal. He has taken the fall for the hoax, but the university shouldn’t also be blamed. And his sexuality should not become a point of public debate. President Barack Obama prioritized protecting the rights of our “gay brothers and sisters” in his second inaugural address Monday. There’s no “but” to this one. No matter what Te’o did or did not know, on the point of tweeting and meme-ing his sexual orientation, the media is in the wrong.

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I’m in Miami, Beach

Global warming, climate change – pick your poison but it’s definitely happening. After a wonderfully sunny and warm six days in Miami, I wondered how people could bear to live down there during the summer. When I flew home, for instance, it was 80 degrees. In January. And while that was a nice change from the snows of Lake Tahoe, it seems, well, a little hot for January.

Earlier this year The Miami Herald reported high temperatures for July, about three degrees warmer than average. But the high temperature was 77.6 degrees.

So my recommendation? Get a place to escape to in the winter, not summer, if that’s your thing. At least until the environment makes it back onto the agenda in Washington, D.C., and the other world capitals.

The view from my lunch table. Doral Golf Resort & Spa, Doral, Florida.
The view from my lunch table. Doral Golf Resort & Spa, Doral, Florida. All photos by Clara Ritger.

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Bahia Mar, my hotel in Ft. Lauderdale.
Bahia Mar, my hotel in Ft. Lauderdale.
The beach of Ft. Lauderdale.
The beach of Ft. Lauderdale.
My friend's parents' place in North Miami Beach.
My friend’s parents’ place in North Miami Beach.

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Flo Rida Oranges

I’ve officially decided that if you take photos with an iPad, people will look at you long enough to get the perfect photo because (a) they are wondering what the big covered rectangle object is that you are holding in front of your face and (b) once they figure out what it is you are holding, they cannot for the life of them find the camera hole.

Now, the unfortunate part of taking photos with the iPad is that they are good for one thing only: Twitter. Perhaps Apple significantly improved the photo quality in the third generation, but for the cave people like myself still using iPad2 there is no reason to post those photos on my pristine blog.

(Thus ends my engaging story for a lead. Cue photos.)

Obie the Orange Bowl Mascot. All photos by Clara Ritger.
Obie the Orange Bowl Mascot. All photos by Clara Ritger.

This guy (maybe girl) made my day. While I was running around back in the wings of the stadium, I happened across Obie and his escorts. Whipping out my camera, Obie stopped and posed for me. It turned into a great photo too.

Discover sponsored a free Flo Rida concert on South Beach the night before the game too. I headed down to catch it and discovered I could get clutch seats by waving my press badge around. Though we could only stay inside for the first three songs, it was worth the photo op and bragging rights. Plus, now I can smugly tell people that the girl on stage next to him lip-synched the whole time, and his live vocals were often overpowered by his own recorded voice. Not that I’m complaining about either, because when they did go completely bare, no background music, I was begging for auto tune.

Press cage, Discover concert series. Sunday, January 6.
Press cage, Discover concert series. Sunday, January 6.
Flo Rida, live in concert.
Flo Rida, live in concert.

Also in attendance at the concert were some of the big college football award winners. To the dismay of some of the Notre Dame fans around me, Johnny Manziel appeared on stage at the call of the announcer. I heard many students start a “Manti” chant, embittered by his loss to Mr. Football in the Heisman race. The deafening, supportive chants from Irish fans continued throughout the weekend. It took little prompting to get them started, but once they did, it became hard to get them to stop. I’d hear “Manti” a few more times that weekend.

Flo Rida in between songs. Or forgetting to lipsynch, take your pick.
Flo Rida in between songs. Or forgetting to lip-synch, take your pick.

I think I’m going to grant beach photos their own post, just because it’s winter and I’m feeling indulgent. Signing off with a shot of one South Beach club, which was hopping like the rest of them that weekend.

Ocean's Ten on South Beach. Almost as popular as The Clevelander for Notre Dame fans.
Ocean’s Ten on South Beach. Almost as popular as The Clevelander for Notre Dame fans.

Waiting two hours for your food became a fact of life. Though I could write that off, I was not so pleasant about the traffic. I went so far as to Google it, to be sure that I could blame it on Miami and not just the Notre Dame fan invasion. Though I will grant Miami reprieve for the numerous accidents I saw on my way to events – clearly that was a result of out of town drivers – overall I’d like to say “you have a serious problem” in regard to their traffic. I was a 25 minute drive from South Beach, and it took 2 hours. So, be warned if vacationing, probably best to stay near where you’re going to spend your time.