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The Real Notre Dame Scandal


Irin Carmon is making sense:

Less than a day into the Manti Te’o revelations, we’ve heard more about a fake dead girlfriend of a Notre Dame football player than a real dead girl. Lizzy Seeberg committed suicide, not long after being intimidated by Notre Dame football players for reporting a sexual assault by one of their teammates. A second woman who was taken to the hospital for a rape exam declined to formally accuse another Notre Dame football player after getting a series of bullying texts from players.

The handful of people who immediately took note of the contrast in the attention — both by the press and by the university — are absolutely right to be angry. But no one should be surprised.


We all have heard by now how denial and institutional culture contributed to Jerry Sandusky’s ability to continue assaulting young boys for years, under cover of the Penn State football program. But once that was exposed, it was rightly considered an unambiguous evil. The sexual assault of women can and is often explained away — including the Notre Dame donor who justified his continued support to Henneberger by saying that Seeberg had been sexually aggressive, that “she was all over the boy.” In other words, it’s not just the players who are banding together around their brothers whether they’re rapists or not; it’s the adults around them who are turning a blind eye because they consider other things more important. And they’re willing to believe anything except that these nice boys can be rapists.

Whether or not Te’o was in on the con, the media went out of its way to spread a myth that held up about as well a “Hack Heaven” under inspection. Combined with the general Notre Dame hype machine that gets bad coaches books written about them if they can have one decent year against a tomato can schedule, it very nearly got a good-not-great interior linebacker the Heisman Trophy. When it comes to accusations of sexual assault that are actually credible and have resulted in the death of at least one woman, alas, the ethos reflected by Gene “I print what Notre Dame tells me to irrespective of whether the story makes sense or has any independent verification” Wojciechowski is equally strong in the sports media. Despite the immense coverage Notre Dame receives, as Nicky Santoro would say when it comes to something that might be important somehow somebody’s always lookin’ the other way. And once revealed by some journalists who were actually doing their job, the relatively harmless scandal will still get vastly more attention than the ones involving sexual assault, intimidation, and suicide.

…see also Katie Baker.  In context the blubbering about how Te’o was a “victim” is pretty hard to stomach.

…as a commenter reminds me, I should note that Deadspin didn’t just embarrass ESPN on the Te’o story; they’ve covered the Notre Dame rape scandals as well.

…and yet more from the always brilliant M.S.S.

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