The New York Patriots pro football team called out the New York Times for a misleading group picture of yesterday’s ceremony with President Trump.
It is traditional for U.S. championship sports teams in any sport to meet and greet the president (whoever that might be at the time) at the White House. The Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51 last February in a historic come-from-behind victory, making them NFL world champions for the fifth time.
[see Update below]
The New York Times tweeted out a comparison photo of yesterday’s delegation versus the 2015 visit when Obama was in office. The latter photo depicted a large number of Patriots staffers on both staircases adjacent to the podium, suggesting that many of them didn’t show up for the festivities this time around.
— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) April 19, 2017
The Pats took to Twitter to suggest, using alternative terminology, that the Times may have been engaging in fake news, pointing out that in yesterday’s visit, about the same number of staffers attended, but instead they had seats on the south lawn of the White House rather than being required to stand. The president himself also chimed in about the controversy.
Many Trump fans believe that the Times, and subsequently other media outlets, never would have gleefully publicized the image under the same set of circumstances in the Obama administration without first checking the backstory, if at all.
There is also a history of players skipping a White House visit, although a larger group of Pats players opted out this time for political reasons, i.e., their antipathy towards Trump, perhaps owing to pressure from activist groups.
These photos lack context. Facts: In 2015, over 40 football staff were on the stairs. In 2017, they were seated on the South Lawn. https://t.co/iIYtV0hR6Y
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) April 20, 2017
Notable by his absence was Tom Brady, the Super Bowl MVP and President Trump’s longtime pal who released a last-minute statement that he was unable to attend because of unspecified family reasons. It’s been well documented that Brady’s mom is fighting cancer, and she is currently visiting her son in Boston.
There is some speculation that Tom Brady bailed on the White House visit — perhaps prompted by wife and Trump foe Gisele Bundchen — because he wants to avoid any backlash in celebrity circles where President Trump is very unpopular, even though the president regularly mixed with celebrities during his long, pre-politics career in the media spotlight. Also citing family reasons, Tom Brady declined to visit the Obama White House in 2015. Trump was a Democrat and independent before he ran for president in 2016 on the GOP ticket.
Interestingly enough, in Trump’s remarks, he made no mention of the Pats superstar QB at all, despite his Super Bowl heroics and their longtime friendship. A variety of conclusions can be drawn from that omission. Watch a video of the entire ceremony here.
The sports media, which the writers themselves admit has become a very liberal profession, continue to celebrate athletes for boycotting the Trump White House or stating in advance that they would do so. In 2012, however, the media industry generally blasted Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas for staying home during the Stanley Cup championship team’s visit to the Obama White House because he disagreed with the policies of the federal government.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) April 20, 2017
The New York Times obtained a reaction from a Patriots’ rep about the matter of size.
“A Patriots spokesman, Stacey James, said Wednesday night that 34 players had attended, similar to the turnout when President George W. Bush hosted them in 2004 and 2005. He said that more than 45 players attended the ceremonies in 2002, after the franchise’s first Super Bowl, and that in 2015, when Barack Obama was president, the number of players approached 50. James said that one reason substantially fewer players showed up this time as compared to 2015 was that some veteran players did not see the need to go twice in three years. James said, however, that the size of the Patriots’ full delegation for each trip to the White House has been roughly the same.”
Failing @nytimes, which has been calling me wrong for two years, just got caught in a big lie concerning New England Patriots visit to W.H.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 20, 2017
In September 2015, sportswriters on the Patriots beat seemed triggered when they spotted a a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker at Gillette Stadium. The QB was careful to avoid making any endorsements during the 2016 presidential campaign, repeatedly stressing that his relationship with Trump was a based on friendship alone. He often ducked any questions about political support or for whom he voted.
Aaaand there's the picture with all additional #Patriots staff. Visual narrative go poof.
Don't compare apples and oranges. Always dumb pic.twitter.com/80i5akb0Pd
— Matt Chatham (@chatham58) April 20, 2017
Although both business and consumer confidence appear to be up this year, a review of the evening news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC (assuming that programming is still relevant) conducted by the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, claims that 89 percent of its coverage about President Trump has been negative.
UPDATE: In a tweet, the New York Times editor who published the photo reportedly admits that he is an idiot
NYT Sports editor gave me a pretty effusive statement on that Trump/Patriots-crowd-size-comparison tweet: pic.twitter.com/yrvyuCPybp
— Colin Campbell (@colincampbell) April 20, 2017
[Featured Image by Andrew Harnik/AP Images]