Controversy Dogs #MayPac: Were Reporters Banned For Criticizing Mayweather?

Are sports journalists being punished for criticizing Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s history of domestic abuse? That’s the question with only hours to go before tonight’s Mayweather championship bout with Manny Pacquiao. Numerous reports and overnight tweets contend that ESPN/HBO reporter Michelle Beadle, USA Today’s Martin Rogers, and CNN/TNT reporter Rachel Nichols have been either denied press credentials or had them revoked due to pressure from the Mayweather camp.

Beadle, a special correspondent for HBO’s The Fight Game, has made a name for herself by talking openly about domestic violence committed by athletes. She recently condemned Mayweather publicly, and was doing so on Twitter as recently as yesterday. Nichols, meanwhile, is noteworthy for a contentious interview with Mayweather in September 2014, during which she questioned him at length about his legal troubles. For his part, in 2014 Martin interviewed Josie Harris, Mayweather’s former partner and the mother of his children, about the abuse she suffered while with the boxer.

Beadle was first to go public with the allegations, followed soon after by Nichols.

Mayweather’s public relations team fired back, flatly denying the allegations. Mayweather PR rep Kelly Swanson insisted on Twitter that Nichols had already received her credentials, and that Beadle was never on the press list, credentialed instead through HBO Boxing. Underscoring the vociferousness of the denial, Swanson added the hashtag #facts to each tweet.

Beadle’s response came an hour later. “After hearing my credential was pulled, I went home,’ she tweeted. “Told this morning that HBO was able to get it re-approved late last night.” She followed up with a tweet that all but called Swanson a liar:

In the middle of all this, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix inserted his own claim, via Twitter, that Rogers was denied credentials outright.

It is being widely reported that Mayweather’s camp did indeed pressure HBO to reverse Beadle’s credentials, but that the decision was reversed after an appeal was made to CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves.

Meanwhile, a source at Showtime told Deadline that no revocation of press credentials had occurred. Regarding Beadle, so we were told, Showtime did deny HBO’s request to tape an episode of The Fight Game during the live pay per view event, but no further denials occurred. As for Nichols, the source stated that she has been credentialed from the beginning, and so far as they know, those credentials have never been revoked. Nichols has not commented on the matter since her initial tweet. The source had no information about Martin Rogers.

As a strange sidenote, Mayweather remains unfazed, and his lawyer has reported that the boxer intends to pay former Death Row CEO Suge Knight’s $10 million bail in full if he wins tonight’s match. Knight is being charged with murder for his involvement in a fatal hit and run on the set of the upcoming N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton.

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao duke it out tonight. The fight is available on pay-per-view, exclusively through either HBO or Showtime. On April 30, the two networks petitioned for and received a temporary injunction prohibiting online streaming services from showing the fight.

(Kinsey Lowe contributed to this report.)

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