ANYONE in Manti Te'o's situation would have done the same thing he did -- and would lie to the media to protect their reputation after being hoaxed ... at least that's what Manti said to Katie Couric.
ABC is finally releasing clips of the big sit-down interview he did for Katie's new talk show -- in which the Notre Dame football star says he perpetuated the lie after he found out he was duped because he didn't know how else to act.
He then asks Katie ... "What would you do?" ... as if there was no other option.
On a related note, ABC is rolling out the interview in bits and pieces ... making it seem as if the interview was a big get for ABC News -- but the fact of the matter is the Manti booking was a score for Katie's talk show ... and a good one at that.