The New England Patriots visited the White House on Wednesday. And after an out-of-context tweet from the New York Times sports desk, President Trump was ready to blitz.
Trump rushed into the action Thursday morning with yet another tweet bashing the “failing” New York Times amid a minor squabble over the tweet.
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
The Trump broadside was referring to a tweet from NYT Sports, which had posted photos comparing the Patriots’ celebratory visits to the White House after their 2015 and 2017 Super Bowl wins. But the Times didn’t initially note the fact that the 2015 photo included the football team’s staff — not just players.
It appears the side-by-side was intended to call attention to Trump’s lackluster support among the NFL champions. According to NESN Patriots beat reporter Doug Kyed, 34 Patriots players had opted out of attending the ceremony.
The tweet was reminiscent of the now famous photos comparing inauguration crowd sizes for Obama and Trump. Those photos had sent the White House into a fury, with press secretary Sean Spicer falsely claiming that his boss had achieved the largest crowd size in inauguration history.
But the Times fumbled the tweet about the Patriots visit and the football team’s official Twitter emerged from the backfield to correct them.
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
The Patriots pointed out that in the first image (with Obama) more than 40 of the organization’s staffers were also on the stairs with the players, whereas in the second image (with Trump) these employees were on the South Lawn.
NYT Sports editor Jason Stallman took full responsibility for the questionable tweet.
“Bad tweet by me. Terrible tweet,” he told Yahoo News in a statement. “I wish I could say it’s complicated, but no, this one is pretty straightforward: I’m an idiot. It was my idea, it was my execution, it was my blunder. I made a decision in about four minutes that clearly warranted much more time. Once we learned more, we tried to fix everything as much as possible as swiftly as possible and as transparently as possible. Of course, at that point the damage was done. I just needed to own it.”
NYT Sports tweeted an update saying that the number of players on this year’s roster was smaller than it had been in 2015 — 34 to 50 — but that the total delegation was roughly the same.
Tom Brady, the Patriots’ star quarterback and the Super Bowl’s most valuable player, did not attend the White House ceremony, citing personal family matters. But several other players, such as Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty, refused to visit the White House for political…