Read the first section of online piece by Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated who did big cover story on T'eo last fall, in which he revealed that indeed he did try to check out several key claims about the imaginary girlfriend's background--and found red flags--but then went ahead with his sob story anyway, merely deleting some things they couldn't prove.
Meanwhile, The Times' public editor Margaret Sullivan acted quickly today to look at the paper's coverage of college football star T'eo and the "hoax" that many in the press fell for, and get editors' reaction. (I should add that listening to Mike Francesa on sports radio WFAN in New York today I wondered how many in audience back his claim that the media have no responsibility at all--and reporters not expected to fact check.)
Sullivan: "The Times was not among the most prominent offenders in taking at face value what turned out to be a hoax, as revealed by the Web site Deadspin.com on Wednesday. But
Times reporters still wrote about the Fighting Irish linebacker Manti
Te’o’s girlfriend at least five times in recent months." Read Joe Sexton's weak defense, in much the same mode at Francesa's--would be crazy to fact-check T'eo's claims.