Pete Thamel: Investigative Journalism Gone Too Far? Or Not Far Enough?

Well, by now, everyone has heard about the Manti Te’o story and his nonexistent girlfriend.  But, as a journalism student myself, I feel that the blame shouldn’t go entirely on Manti Te’o for deceiving everyone or being deceived, depending on how you look at the situation.  What about the journalist who made the story behind Te’o and his girlfriend a national headline? Pete Thamel.  Every UK fan knows the name and they probably have a few other names for him that wouldn’t be something to say in front of the kids.

Pete Thamel, if you remember, was the journalist who initially looked into Eric Bledsoe’s high school grades, claiming that there were discrepancies that would’ve made Bledsoe ineligible and may have forced UK to vacate John Calipari’s first season as head coach of the Wildcats.   However, there were some issues with the way Pete Thamel gained the information in Bledsoe’s official transcripts. It was later found by the NCAA that his claims “were not credible”.

Pete Thamel, if you remember, was also the journalist who initially looked into Enes Kanter’s eligibility at the University of Kentucky in relation to his amateur status.  Originally, it was thought that Kanter was only given the essential, necessary expenses that any player at a prep school would receive in a scholarship, but Thamel’s investigation led to an NCAA investigation, causing Enes Kanter the season and his college career.

Pete Thamel, if you remember, was the journalist who tweeted cheers for the Chicago Sun-Times when they published a story accusing Anthony Davis and his father of asking for over $100,000 from schools during Davis’ recruitment.  Those accusations turned out to be false.

Pete Thamel, if you remember, was the journalist who attempted to start an investigation of Nerlens Noel while he was still in high school, which led to the NCAA doing a small investigation into Noel’s background and finding nothing wrong.  Once again, Thamel had attempted to take away a season from a Kentucky player: the fourth time in four years that he had done so.

But wait – there was something else that Thamel did recently in pursuit of an investigative journalistic piece.  When LSU football star Tyrann Mathieu was kicked off the team for his use of drugs, Thamel put a story of Mathieu on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  However, this time, the subject of a Thamel piece fought back.  Mathieu accused Thamel and Sports Illustrated of harassing him and his family in pursuit of a story that didn’t really need to be told any further than it already had been.  A local club owner near LSU also claimed that Thamel attempted to bribe him to get him to say things about Mathieu that never happened, in an attempt to find more fault with Mathieu.

All of this aside, when does investigative journalism go too far? We see that Pete Thamel has now attempted to take away the seasons of four UK basketball players and further degrade the life of a former LSU football player.  It seems that Thamel shouldn’t be spending his time focusing on UK, when 75% of the time, he is using incorrect information and using false claims.

Where was Pete Thamel when USC was under investigation for recruiting Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson, among others?  Where was Pete Thamel during the academic scandals at North Carolina? Where was Pete Thamel during the investigation of former Duke players and their alleged reception of funds to pay for jewelry?  Thamel has almost taken it on himself to be the NCAA’s inspector, when really it isn’t necessary, and most of the time, he is incorrect and using questionable methods along the way.  And Thamel is only Mr. Investigator when he doesn’t like the program.  Thamel was the original person who made Manti Te’o and his girlfriend national news, but this time, his investigative qualities seemed to disappear.  He didn’t even look into the story enough to see that one of the main characters in it wasn’t even real.

I think most would agree that Pete Thamel needs to stick to writing on facts, rather than attempting to use unreliable sources for stories that don’t even report the truth.  Of course, Thamel is a great journalist in his own right, but as far as investigative journalism goes, maybe he should take a break.  Pete Thamel hasn’t been great at the “investigative” part of the journalism. Either he has gone too far, or he has clearly not gone far enough.

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Tags: Basketball Articles Kentucky Wildcats Manti Te'o Pete Thamel

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