By Tom Blumer
The New York Times is trying to make it look like it’s doing everything it can to back away from the tweet it published Wednesday afternoon showing a bogus comparison of the turnouts from the 2015 and 2017 White House appearances of the players and front office personnel of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. In truth, it’s doing everything except the one thing it should do.
The original tweet, now accompanied by a non-apologetic “Update” from @NYTSports, was up to over 50,000 retweets as of 10 p.m. Thursday evening, a increase of 6,000 from the number at 10 a.m. The Times appears to have no intention of deleting or replacing it.
Jason Stallman, the Times sports editor who says it was his sole decision to publish the original tweet, issued a deceptively strong-looking mea culpa:
Stallman’s apology may appear to be “pretty effusive,” but it’s ineffective at best and misleading at worst.
The proper translation of “I’m an idiot” is “I’m an agenda-driven opportunist who thought he had something that was too good to check.”
The idea that the Times “has tried to fix everything as much as possible as swiftly as possible and as transparently as possible” is rubbish. That’s because the offending tweet is still present, followed by an “Update” which still tries to make a false “attendance was down because Trump is in the White House” point:
The Times wants us to believe that only two-thirds as many players were present this year compared to two years ago, and that it must be because so many of them don’t want to be seen with Donald Trump.
The Patriots also addressed that point yesterday, but the Times didn’t disclose it in the still-present tweet:
The still-present original tweet was discussed Wednesday at the Boston Globe, which had this mealy-mouthed headline about the controversy:
“That Patriots White House photo comparison? It’s complicated.”
Note that Stallman’s apology at the Times reads that “I wish I could say that it’s complicated; but no, this one is pretty straightforward.”
Has the Globe even recognized Stallman’s apology and how it directly contradicts its reporting yesterday? Searches at the paper’s website indicate that it hasn’t.
Additionally, a separate Globe story on the visit yesterday essentially conceded that very few players excused themselves because of publicly expressed dislike for Trump:
At least five members of the team boycotted the ceremony because of Trump’s policies or practices.”
The proper translation of “at least” in this instance is “at most.”
There’s even more bias to report, because the Globe’s original headline, still present in its browser window frame, was “Over politicking, Tom Brady’s absence undermine stagecraft of Patriots’ White House visit.” Now, “Overt politicking” has been replaced with “Boycott.”
Five players out of 63 not attending for ideological reasons is supposed to constitute a real “boycott”? Give me a break.
In case Jason Stallman at the Times is unsure of the procedures for deleting a tweet, here’s how:
Recover some of your integrity, Jason. Delete the tweet.
Unless and until the tweet is removed, the default assumption has to be, as I indicated Thursday morning, that the Times “wants its misleading tweet to continue to be spread far and wide while exhibiting phony contrition.”
Editor’s note. This appeared at Newsbusters and is reposted with permission.