By now, everyone has heard the story about Manti T'eo's fake girlfriend.
If you have not, then you have not been paying attention to NBC, ABC, or any other mainstream news outlet. Aside from the campaigns, it might be the most widely covered and discussed story in the past year.
In short, T'eo is a hypertalented linebacker from Notre Dame. He helped to lead the once feared football program from relative mediocrity back to the national championship game. Apparently for the past few years, T'eo had a "girlfriend" that he had only known on Facebook, although there were repeated claims that he had actually seen her. She "died" last fall of leukemia, leaving him publicly grief stricken, but determined to play on. Furthermore, T'eo was an outspokenly devout follower of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, becoming prominent at the same time that the nation was focused on another worshiped in that faith. It grew into the stuff of media legend.
Many believe that T'eo helped to perpetuate the hoax himself, for reasons that could only be speculated upon. Some noted his family's dedication to a faith based on conservative values (true.) Others described the environment at the University of Notre Dame as conservative (false.) Predictably, liberal speculation swirled that somehow being surrounded by conservatism may have pressured T'eo to manufacture a farce. This came before anyone has even heard an inkling of what the truth might be.
Regardless of what the truth is, evidence is clear that no actual crime was committed. This is important to remember.
Most news outlets have given this blanket coverage. Within three days, NBC has at least five online stories. Those following NBC could be sure that they would receive the latest information and breaking news as it happened in the evolving Manti T'eo story. Certainly, they had reporters watching the situation closely. Good work.
But where was this effort over the past two years for stories of vastly more significance?
Where was NBC's effort on Operation Fast and Furious? The ATF under Obama allowed weapons to fall into the hands of dangerous drug cartel criminals in Mexico. Some of these weapons were used in deadly attacks on U. S. law enforcement and others. According to TownHall's Katie Pavlich in Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and Its Shameless Coverup, "this was a major operation taking place along an international border by an agency notorious for mismanagement." The Young America's Foundation alumna has relentlessly and successfully covered the operation almost from the moment it became news. Where were the veteran reporters of NBC? It took them 18 months to report that the scandal even existed.
If NBC had reported World War II on the same timeline, Americans would not have even known the country was at war until June 1943 when Army Air Force planes were bombarding Sicily in preparation for a U.S. invasion.
When America wants to know about the Facebook world of a college football player, it should turn to NBC. When it wants to know about irresponsible government scandals and the tragic deaths they cause, like Operation Fast and Furious, viewers obviously need to go elsewhere.
Stephen A. Smoot is the Director of Academic Programs for National Journalism Center, a project of Young America's Foundation