After the mastermind behind the Manti Te'o hoax came clean, revealed the source of the fake-girlfriend name, and admitted he might be gay and that Te'o most certainly wasn't, Dr. Phil McGraw apparently decided there was only one more thing to force out of Roniah Tuiasosopo. And so arrived the awkward cliffhanger of Dr. Phil's two-part interview Thursday afternoon on nationally syndicated television — the world's most famous self-help doctor, the light gleaming off his shiny bald head in front of the fireplace at his creepy California home: "Gimme a little of that voice."
Indeed, McGraw's show had already leaked out much of the big news from Tuisasosopo's first public interview since the scandal broke two weeks ago. And after conflicting reports about who was the voice behind the non-existent "Lennay Kekua," that kind of was the last big question to be answered: How did Roniah Tuiasosopo change his voice for all those hours he was talking to Te'o? And how could Manti Te'o have believed those voicemails he played in his own sit-down interview?
On the first part of the interview broadcast Thursday, McGraw implored, "They need to know that voice comes out of you." A visibly nervous Tuiasosopo got a bit of stage fright and said that he wasn't up for it. But according to the AP, Tuiasosopo does perform his fake-girlfriend impersonation in Friday's conclusion of the bizarre interview. Here's a teaser that ran after today's session — complete with behind-the-curtain showmanship, Wizard of Oz-style:
So, yes, we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see Tuiasosopo do the voice that fooled a college-football hero and subsequently captivated a nation, but we did learn a few new nuggets on Thursday as this scandal begins to come to a close:
- Tuiasosopo loved Te'o. "I mean, yeah ... all of my energy went into this and as Twisted and as confusing as it may be, then yeah. I cared for this person," Tuiasosopo said.
- He's not gay, per se. "But I'm honestly, I'm so confused. I'm just finding me," Tuiasosopo told McGraw.
- "Lennay" came from somewhere after all. The name was a concocted mix of Tuiasosopo's mother and grandmother's names.
- Tuiasosopo got jealous. Apparently he didn't like when women were at Te'o's house near Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana, and apparently Te'o was skyping with other women while he was "dating" Kekua. (This would seem to confirm the rather absurd denial from Te'o in his Katie Couric interview last week that Te'o was "farrrr" from gay.)
- Dr. Phil's house is weird. Yeah, the interview — with Tuiasosopo and his family — was conducted at McGraw's home, which sort of looks like West Elm threw up on The Birdcage.
The first half of the interview concluded with McGraw explaining that he consulted with special voice analysts who say that there's only a small chance that Tuiasosopo could be the voice on the voicemails, after which Tuiasosopo steps behind the veil. For now, we guess we'll have to wait until Friday to finally put the final nail in the coffin of Lennay Kekua — we hope.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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