To invest in the invisible: A case study of Manti Te'o's image repair strategies during the Katie Couric interview

Evan L. Frederick, Lauren M. Burch, Jimmy Sanderson, Marion E. Hambrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine Manti Te'o's image repair strategies during an interview with Katie Couric. This interview followed reports that Te'o had been involved in an elaborate hoax featuring a fake girlfriend. The interview was a worthy avenue of investigation as it was Te'o's first opportunity to publicly defend himself on camera following a week of ridicule and speculation by media outlets and the public. A deductive thematic analysis was conducted on Te'o's responses utilizing Benoit's image repair typology and other recently identified image repair strategies as a guide. Results revealed that Te'o did not deviate from previously established strategies by employing defeasibility, victimization, good intentions, stonewalling, retrospective regret, bolstering, shifting blame, and simple denial. Collectively, the employment of these tactics illustrated a timid, naïve, and remorseful approach to image repair. While some of Te'o's choices were appropriate, the heavy use of stonewalling and victimization may have been ineffective in changing audience perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)780-788
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Relations Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014



  • Catfishing
  • Hoax
  • Image repair
  • Manti Te'o
  • Notre Dame

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