President Donald Trump this morning is accusing The New York Times of “a big lie” in its depiction of Wednesday’s White House ceremony honoring the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Bellichick are regulars at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. Before his daily national security briefing at the White House, Trump fired off a tweet ripping the “failing” publication, which he said “just got caught in a big lie concerning New England Patriots visit to W.H.”
The Times’ Twitter account for its sports section tweeted photos of Wednesday’s gathering on the South Lawn of the White House and a much more crowded picture of the team’s 2015 appearance when Barack Obama was president.
The team responded on its Twitter account a few hours later that the Times’ photos “lack context” because the 2015 picture includes more than 40 staff while staff were seated on the South Lawn for the latest pic.
A variety of Boston-area media outlets reported that 34 players showed up Wednesday for the ceremony with Trump, compared to “around 50” players for the ceremony with Obama.
While some players stated they were skipping the Trump event for political reasons, the team suggested that because it has won two Super Bowls in three seasons, the lack of novelty of a White House visit might have kept some players away.
In 2004, when another Patriots squad won its second Super Bowl in three seasons, only 36 players showed up after more than 50 had turned out in 2002. Both those visits were when George W. Bush was president.
The Times added an update on its Twitter feed Wednesday night saying: “Patriots say # of players was smaller this year than 2015 (34 vs. 50) but total delegation was roughly the same.”
The Times also added a correction to a story about the gathering, writing: “An earlier version of this article included photos comparing the size of the Patriots’ gathering at the White House in 2015 and the gathering on Wednesday. The photo from Wednesday only showed players and coaches; the 2015 photo showed players, coaches and support staff and has been removed.”