The Slatest

Te’o’s Catfish Hoaxer Apparently Had Fallen “Deeply, Romantically in Love” With Him

NBC’s Today show this morning brought us our first look at Ronaiah Tuiasosopo’s sit-down with Dr. Phil McGraw. Tuiasosopo, you no doubt recall, is the apparent mastermind behind Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o fake dead girlfriend. The first half of the interview won’t air in full tomorrow, but the big takeaway from today’s short excerpts and McGraw’s account of the interview include the fact that Tuiasosopo took full credit for the scam, and backed Te’o’s claim that he was the victim of, and not a knowing participant in, the hoax. Oh yeah, and there was this:

“Here we have a young man that fell deeply, romantically in love,” McGraw told NBC’s Mike Taibbi in a segment that aired on TODAY Wednesday. “I asked him straight up, ‘Was this a romantic relationship with you?’ And he says yes. I said, ‘Are you then therefore gay?’ And he said, ‘When you put it that way, yes.’ And then he caught himself and said, ‘I am confused.’ “

That account lines up pretty flush with the one offered by Tuiasosopo’s lawyer earlier this month. The attorney, Milton Grimes, told the New York Daily News that his client hadn’t executed the elaborate prank in an attempt to hurt Te’o. “It was establishing a communication with someone,” Grimes explained, somewhat vaguely. “It was a person with a troubled existence trying to reach out and communicate and have a relationship.”

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