The New York Times spread a pair of misleading photos of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots visiting the Trump and Obama White Houses, giving the false impression that significantly fewer Patriots players and staffers showed up for President Trump.
The tweet quickly went viral, picking up over 44,000 retweets.
— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) April 19, 2017
But the Patriots explained in their own tweet that the Times was comparing apples and oranges. The 2015 photo included about 40 staff members, who were sitting on the lawn Tuesday.
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
Trump himself called out the 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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 20, 2017
By then, other media outlets had pounced on the photos.
"The top is all the Patriots players who showed up to greet President Obama in 2015," MSNBC's Chris Hayes reported inaccurately. "On the bottom the players who showed up to greet President Trump."
"And boy, do those staircases look empty in bottom photo," Hayes snarked. "Which means either football teams have gotten a lot smaller in the last two years, or a bunch of players just didn't show up today."
Hayes gave the slightest of mea culpas later Wednesday night, retweeting the Patriots' explanation.
CNN's Erin Burnett also shared the photos and asked former Trump campaign adviser David Urban to weigh in on it.
"This is actually very interesting," she said. "Do you read anything into those two pictures, David?"
When Urban responded that it was a "silly" comparison, Burnett pressed the issue.
"Why?" she asked.