*A lot has happened since the New York Times published a photo on Wednesday (April 19) showing a lot more members of the New England Patriots organization attending President Obama’s White House on their 2015 Super Bowl victory lap than their 2017 visit with President Trump.
— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) April 19, 2017
The New England Patriots quickly took issue with the photo comparison, which featured an Associated Press photo of the Patriots standing behind Obama on the south side of the White House in 2015 – the stairs on either side of the main group packed with people. The tweet compared it with a NY Times photo taken Wednesday with Trump – showing both of the staircases empty.
The Patriots argued on Twitter that the photos lack context, and that football staff who had been on the stairs in the Obama photos were seated on the South Lawn this year. Team spokesman Stacey James told The Boston Globe that the White House chose to have the staff sit this time.
In all, 34 players attended Wednesday’s ceremony, a total similar to the team’s past visits in 2004 and 2005 but significantly less than those attending the 2002 and 2015 post-Super Bowl visits. Tom Brady was among the players not in attendance, with the quarterback saying he didn’t attend for “personal family matters.”
The Times tweeted an update saying the Pats confirmed that fewer players attended this year, but that the total delegation was about the same. The photo comparison was also used in a story on the Times’ website before being removed with a correction.
Trump couldn’t wait to tweet about the mixup, blasting the newspaper for its “big lie.”
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