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60 Minutes takes a dive on Pacquaio story

I normally just think of 60 Minutes as the show that screws up my recording of the Amazing Race when football games run long.  But I seem to remember a time not so long ago when the show earned the right to run “in its entirety” no matter how late the game went.
60 Minutes was cutting-edge investigative journalism that made CEOs and politicians slam doors and cower under their desks when the camera crew arrived. 
I watched last night’s episode for two reasons:  First, Raiders-Chiefs went to overtime, and second, because they were doing a feature on boxer Manny Pacquiao.
For me, Pacquiao has always been a must-see.  The last three pay-per-views I’ve purchased were all for Pac Man fights, and I bought a “Team Pacquiao” hat on eBay long before most U.S. fans had heard of him.  It’s great that he’s bringing the sport attention in the national mainstream media. 
However, if you watch his fights, you’ll be entertained.  He always delivers.  The same, unfortunately, can’t be said for 60 Minutes, who took a dive on the Pacquiao story last night.  If all of their stories are as thorough and accurate as that one, I think it’s safe for the crooked CEOs and weasel politicians to come out from under their desks now.
Maybe they’re the Evander Holyfield of investigative journalism.  They’ve lost several steps and can’t get off a solid shot any more.  It’s long past time to hang it up, but instead they grab and clinch and collect their check, living off a name that once meant something.
Or perhaps they’re the Zab Judah of investigative journalism.  They forgot the most important rule of being great:  It’s the hard work you do long before anyone is watching that makes you a champion.
60 Minutes interviewed three people for the story:  Pacquaio, his trainer, and his promoter.  The result was an infomercial for the guy that concluded he is a saint of a man, the best fighter of his era, and just maybe ever. 
15 seconds into the 13 minute story, Pacquiao is described as “quite simply, the best boxer in the world today.”  No mention is made of a case Floyd Mayweather Jr., nor does Pretty Boy Floyd get mentioned over the next 12 minutes and 45 seconds.  In the eyes of 60 Minutes, he just doesn’t exist.
The slight is odd, because for the last two years, you can’t mention one fighter without the other.  They’ve been involved in a long ugly dance that hopefully will one day end with them facing off in the ring.  The deal has been signed and broken, and every fight either guy has had was made only after Pacquiao-Mayweather fell through.  Again.
Mayweather is the reason Pacquiao has had to defend himself against steroid allegations (which also don’t exist in the 60 Minutes-verse. 
It’s a sin that they didn’t interview him.  It’s unforgivable that he didn’t get mentioned.  Can you imagine a story on Ali that ignores Joe Frazier completely?  Or a Red Sox piece that doesn’t mention the Yankees? 
Seven seconds later, we’re told that Pacquiao “is generating excitement not seen in the ring since Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, or Mohammad Ali.”  The sound you just heard is Arturo Gatti rolling over in his grave.  Or Diego Corrales.  Or the still living Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns searching for graves to roll in.  Basically, it seemed like the reporter just listed all the fighters he could think of on the spot.
HBO wants to sell this fight as much as promoter Bob Arum.  I’m sure they’d have made announcers Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman, and Larry Merchant available to 60 Minutes.  They could have given an accurate historical perspective on Pacquiao’s excitement level in the ring.
So could Burt Sugar, Dan Rafael, Teddy Atlas, or dozens of other boxing writers and broadcasters, all just a phone call away.  I guarantee that the 30 minute hype special they run before next weekend’s pay-per-view will feature quotes from some of them.  Yet 60 Minutes couldn’t track them down?
At 37 seconds, we see an even bigger problem with the feature than the one-sided sourcing.  They just plain didn’t check facts.  We’re told that Pacquiao has won titles all the way up to “the 148 pound division”, which is…only one pound off, but still, very easy to check.  Ask any of the three guys you did talk to.  They know welterweight is 147 pounds.
We also see Pacquiao on his knees in prayer after a bout.  “It’s the closest he comes to the canvas,” gushed the report.  Except that Pacquaio has been knocked out twice, and knocked down on other occasions.  Here’s proof:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_jzIhUZcg8
They show Pacquiao entering the ring smiling.  “I’ve never seen a fighter do that before,” says the amazed reporter.  Except that they use footage from Pacquaio’s last fight.  Which was against Joshua Clottey.  Who smiles, laughs, and dances his way into the ring.  Here’s his ring entrance from the exact same fight. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy0NUlFrIWY&feature=related
And there’s this guy named Floyd Mayweather, who’s been known to clown a ring entrance.  He’s worn a big goofy sombrero, tossed fake money to the crowd, and here he is grinning ear to hear as he is carried into the ring on a throne by Roman gladiators. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpeRlacvPBs
All it takes is a little bit of homework, 60 Minutes.  We’re not looking for an expose, just a … story.
Instead, a woefully unprepared reporter asks trainer Freddie Roach about their first time working together and how long it took him to know that Pacquiao would one day be a champion.  Roach answers that he knew almost immediately, which shocked the reporter.
Of course, the reason Roach knew so quickly is that Pacquiao won his first world title two and a half years before Roach began training him, and the first fight they worked together was for a world title in another division.
Bob Arum told them that the Philippines legislature tried to pass a bill preventing Pacquiao from fighting Oscar de la Hoya, because he might get hurt.  I’m not saying it’s a lie, because I have no basis for making that conclusion.  I do know that I’ve never heard that story before, and that 60 Minutes ran with it on the word of a boxing promoter.
They talk about Pacquiao’s political career and marvel that a boxer may one day be president of a nation of millions.  “That would be history,” they gush.
History, as in Gerald Ford, who was Yale’s assistant boxing coach, or Dwight D. Eisenhower, who injured his knee in a boxing match in the military?  Or Vladimir Putin, who is a 6th degree dan in Judo and I’m guessing could throw a left hook in a pinch?
The report was titled “What’s Next For Manny Pacquiao.”  Hopefully, an fair and accurate portrayal the next time the national media takes interest.  What’s next for 60 Minutes?   Based on that performance, perhaps a cameo in the sequel to The Hangover.
 

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