For Pete's Sake

Patriots, President Trump fire shots at New York Times over photo comparison

President Donald Trump held a Patriots Super Bowl jersey next to coach Bill Belichick (left) and owner Robert Kraft (right) at the White House on Wednesday.
President Donald Trump held a Patriots Super Bowl jersey next to coach Bill Belichick (left) and owner Robert Kraft (right) at the White House on Wednesday. Tribune News Services

The New England Patriots celebrated their Super Bowl LI victory by visiting the White House on Wednesday. Tom Brady was a late scratch from the visit because of a personal issue, and a few other players declined to make the trip.

The Patriots last visited the White House in 2015 after winning Super Bowl XLIX, and the New York Times tweeted photos that made it seem that there were far fewer people at the White House this time around.

The Patriots later said that the photos shown were misleading, and took to Twitter to explain the difference in the two photos. The team wrote: “These photos lack context. Facts: In 2015, over 40 football staff were on the stairs. In 2017, they were seated on the South Lawn.”

The New York Times clarified things in a new tweet that said: “UPDATE: Patriots say # of players was smaller this year than 2015 (34 vs. 50) but total delegation was roughly the same.”

Given the Patriots incredible run of success, they thought it might be better to compare the times that they have won two Super Bowls in three years and then visited the White House.

That’s when George W. Bush was president. The Patriots wrote in the tweet: “Comparable photos: The last time the #Patriots won two Super Bowls in three years, 36 players visited the White House. Today, we had 34.”

Trump noted the kerfuffle and tweeted about the New York Times on Thursday morning.

“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.,” Trump wrote.

On Thursday, New York Times sports editor Jason Stallman apparently offered up an apology while talking to Colin Campbell of Yahoo, although there was no attribution.

This is what the Times sports editor told Campbell, and the Washington Post also had the same comment from Stallman:

“Bad tweet by me. Terrible tweet. 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.”

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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