It’s the same thinking that brought us those overproduced, endlessly sappy Olympics profiles, wherein every hangnail ever suffered by an Olympian was blown up into the equivalent of the pillars of Hercules by NBC (which thankfully throttled back during the London Games). Reporters, editors, and producers are conditioned to dig deeper, to look for something more, to attract the eyeballs of people who don’t really care about the final score in and of itself.

That’s the great irony—the more they dug in this case, and the more Te’o was forced to reveal supposed details and intimacies of his relationship with his fictitious girlfriend, the deeper the media fell for the con.

Fast Breaks
The happiest man in the country to see the Te’o story break was Lance Armstrong, whose mea culpa on Oprah Winfrey’s vanity network, OWN, was instantly forgotten in the wake of l’affaire Te’o. Armstrong, of course, lied for years and years about his PED use, and much of the media swallowed it whole. And now when he has to come clean, and perhaps even shed a few tears, Armstrong was set to be humiliated, at long last. But thanks to Te’o, no one cares—if anyone really did before.

Also happy today—Brent Musberger. After the (manufactured, in my opinion) outrage that accompanied his verbal leering over Katherine Webb, the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, during the broadcast of the BCS title game, Brent should be relieved that at least he did so over the real thing! Plus, to the best of my memory, he never drifted into Te’o’s personal life during the telecast, concentrating instead on his slew of missed tackles during the Tide’s rout of the Irish.

Robert Weintraub is the author of The House That Ruth Built. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and Slate, and a television writer/producer based in Atlanta.