New York Times sports editor Jason Stallman took full responsibility Thursday for a misleading photo comparison of the New England Patriots' visits to the White House after Super Bowl victories.
One showed the team visiting in 2015 when Barack Obama was president while the other showed a comparatively dismal turnout when Republican President Donald Trump hosted the team Wednesday.
Patriots' turnout for President Obama in 2015 vs. Patriots' turnout for President Trump today:… https://t.co/Qr9QYtxY20— NYT Sports (@NYT Sports)1492633540.0
Except the photo comparison was far from an accurate representation.
The Patriots themselves took corrective action, calling out the Times for running photos that “lack context.”
“Facts: In 2015, over 40 football staff were on the stairs,” the Patriots tweeted. “In 2017, they were seated on the South Lawn.”
These photos lack context. Facts: In 2015, over 40 football staff were on the stairs. In 2017, they were seated on… https://t.co/iCzXZIHFBy— New England Patriots (@New England Patriots)1492649103.0
Stallman came clean Thursday in an email to the Washington Post:
“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.”
Trump, who is no fan of the Times, got in some digs at the paper Thursday:
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 (@Donald J. Trump)1492696094.0
The Patriots had posted a photo on Twitter of a more representative gathering at the Trump White House before correcting the Times:
Thanks @realDonaldTrump & @WhiteHouse for the gracious hospitality today honoring the Super Bowl Champion New Engla… https://t.co/0uOq7sFVlj— New England Patriots (@New England Patriots)1492647227.0
The organization also posted its own photo comparison:
Comparable photos: The last time the #Patriots won two Super Bowls in three years, 36 players visited the White Hou… https://t.co/ge1ZvHNZzp— New England Patriots (@New England Patriots)1492651852.0
After the Patriots called out the Times, the paper posted a Twitter update acknowledging the total turnout from the organization was "roughly the same" in 2015 and 2017 — but also added that 34 players visited the Trump White House while 50 players showed up to see Obama.
Although one could argue the Times' photo comparison seems to indicate a far greater difference in number than merely 16 fewer players.