NY Times tweet about Patriots at White House starts new crowd size controversy

Comparison appears to show much larger crowd for Obama, but team says the context is different

President Donald Trump speaks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 19, 2017, during a ceremony where he honored the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots for their Super Bowl LI victory. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (WWLP) – In the days following President Donald Trump’s inauguration, much attention was paid to the ceremony’s crowd size, after Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed it was the largest audience to witness an inauguration. That turned out not to be the case, but there was a new crowd size controversy involving the Trump administration that had people- including the president himself- talking Thursday morning.

On Wednesday night, New York Times Sports tweeted two photos of Patriots players outside the White House. The first was taken during the Patriots’ visit with President Barack Obama in 2015, with the second being the Patriots’ visit with President Trump on Wednesday. Seen together, it would appear that a much larger crowd came to greet Obama, as opposed to Trump.

The Patriots organization, however, says that the photos are misleading. In the case of the picture taken during the visit with President Obama, the Patriots tweeted, more than 40 staff members are seen on the stairs. Staff members who traveled with the team for Wednesday’s visit were seated on the South Lawn at the time the photo was taken.

Another picture that was taken Wednesday tweeted by the Patriots shows a crowd up the stairs and filling out the balcony above.

President Trump took to Twitter Thursday morning to express his outrage with the Times tweet, saying that the “Failing @nytimes” had “just got caught in a big lie.”

Disagreement over the pictures aside, there were indeed fewer Patriots players in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting than there were in 2015. Thirty-four players came to meet with President Trump on Wednesday, as opposed to an estimated 50 who came to see Obama. Some players, such as Tom Brady, missed the visit for personal reasons, while others, such as LeGarrette Blount and Chris Long, did so due to their distaste for the president and his policies. The Patriots organization told the Times that despite the lower number of players present, the size of the overall delegation that went to the White House is about the same as it was two years ago.