Of course that’s the latest plotline in the Manti Te’o soap opera.
Ahead of a two-part interview with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, alleged mastermind of the dead girlfriend hoax, that will air Thursday and Friday, Dr. Phil McGraw told Mike Taibbi of NBC‘s TODAY show that he “believes Tuiasosopo genuinely fell in love with the Notre Dame star linebacker during the course of the two-year deception.”
The deception involved Tuiasosopo creating a a “girlfriend” — Lennay Kekua — with whom Te’o had a mostly online relationship. The deception was so involved and so deep that, at one point, Te’o proclaimed Kekua as “the love of my life” following her “death” after a “battle” with leukemia. At some point during a relationship that consisted of social media interaction as well as lengthy telephone conversations, Tuiasosopo, who continued to maintain to Dr. Phil that he was the voice of Kekua despite reports to the contrary, began to have romantic feelings for the Heisman Trophy runner-up.
“Here we have a young man that fell deeply, romantically in love,” McGraw told Taibbi. “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.’”
(Rest of America: so are we)
Coming out of the interview with Tuiasosopo, Dr. Phil told Taibbi that he believes “absolutely, unequivocally” that Te’o played no role in the creation of the hoax and was simply duped by an individual who “had a number of life experiences that damaged this young man in some very serious ways.”
Te’o had previously sat down for an on-camera interview with Katie Couric and denied any involvement.
Below is the video from the TODAY show segment that aired Wednesday morning, with clips from Dr. Phil’s extensive interview with Tuiasosopo: