New York Times sports editor Jason Stallman has apologized for a tweet in which he compared side-by-side images of the New England Patriots visiting the White House in 2015 and 2017.
Here's the tweet:
The tweet got over 51,000 retweets and close to 79,000 "likes." Here's the problem – it's an inaccurate comparison. The New England Patriots twitter account was swift with a reply:
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 New York Times reports:
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, however, that the size of the Patriots’ full delegation for each trip to the White House has been roughly the same. Some photos of the ceremonies include support staff, he said, making the turnout appear bigger. That, he said, was the case in 2015.
That said, it's true that several players didn't attend because they dislike President Trump. The New York Times quotes multiple players, including LeGarrette Blount and Devin McCourty, who said as much.
Despite this, Jason Stallman apologized, telling Yahoo News: "Bad tweet by me. Terrible tweet. I wish I could say it's complicated, but no, this one is pretty straight forward. I'm an idiot."
In the end, fewer players attended the event with Trump than with Obama, however, the side-by-side images suggest a difference of more than 60 players and personnel, while the difference was actually closer to 16.
The images, which were widely disseminated, also reinforce the narrative that Trump is a racist. While some players do indeed feel that way, several African American players can be seen in attendance at the Trump White House event, showing that perhaps not all of the minority players feel the same way.