Fox News has come under fire for using a misleading photo of several Eagles players during a story about the team’s visit to the White House, which was called off, reported the Washington Post.
Although the Eagles were supposed to attend a Super Bowl celebration at the White House, the trip was canceled when “the great majority of [Eagles] players” decided to skip the visit.
While reporting on the story, Fox News used photos of Eagles players kneeling on the ground, which is most often associated with the controversial NFL protests during the national anthem. However, tight end Zach Ertz recognized the photos as being misleading, and took to Twitter to remind everyone the actual story behind the images.
“This can’t be serious. … Praying before games with my teammates, well before the anthem, is being used for your propaganda?! Just sad. I feel like you guys should have to be better than this.”
Ertz’s Twitter post went viral, and the executive producer of the show Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream, Christopher Wallace, offered a formal apology.
“During our report about President Trump canceling the Philadelphia Eagles’ trip to the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl win, we showed unrelated footage of players kneeling in prayer… To clarify, no members of the team knelt in protest during the national anthem through the regular or postseason last year. We apologize for the error.”
For many Eagles players, being portrayed as unpatriotic was a sting, considering that no one actually kneeled in protest. Moreover, Trump tweeted that it’s just as disrespectful to stay in the locker room as it is to kneel on the field.
The Philadelphia Eagles Football Team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event. Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2018
However, CBS News reported that no Eagles player stayed in the locker room during the national anthem.
Regardless, Trump has taken the stance that the players are unpatriotic, which explains their reluctance to attend the White House celebration. Trump said in a statement that “They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”
This just in: Trump's petty.
Trump decided to disinvite the Philadelphia Eagles to White House after a majority of the team already declined. pic.twitter.com/e722QDXmpW
— The Root (@TheRoot) June 5, 2018
On the other hand, it appears that many players simply did not want to attend. ESPN’s Adam Schefter said that many players, including a majority of the black players, opted not to go. To reconcile the problem, the team owner Jeffrey Lurie reportedly wanted to send a smaller group to “avoid putting his players in a difficult spot.”
Even Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney had something to say about it, inviting the team to City Hall while criticizing the president, saying that Trump is the one that is “not a true patriot,” and that he is “a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size.”
The White House held an alternate ceremony without the Eagles, which focused on patriotism rather than the Super Bowl winners.