By: Nancy Rommelmann & Sarah HepolaPublished: September 5, 2022

The Hoax Heard Round the World

Mikhail Gorbachev’s passing reminds Sarah of one of the strangest assignments of her career: Interviewing the man who presided over the end of the Cold War … about his luggage. Meanwhile, Nancy is apoplectic about an uptick in Portland violence, including a tragic and preventable murder over the weekend.

But the crux of this week’s episode is “Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist,” a two-hour Netflix documentary about the Manti Te’o catfishing scandal that hijacked the college linebacker’s career and reputation. This was one hell of a hoax, raising questions about con artists, our capacity for belief, and love in the age of social media. Nancy sees similarities in literary hoax JT Leroy. Sarah sees similarities in that dude from OKCupid who kept her on the phone for hours but canceled every date.

Also discussed: A NYT opinion column on “the myth of maternal instinct” that places ideology over biological realities. Recommendations from the Hot Box include a podcast combining hair metal and CIA intrigue as well as a great book on the writing life, but Sarah’s ill-fated attempt to share an inspiring quote from that book includes the phrase “know your bone,” which goes over as expected …

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