Trump blasts New York Times for 'big lie' behind Patriots pics

It began when the Times and other news organizations tweeted out photos comparing the Patriots' visit with Trump on Wednesday with the team's White House event with President Barack Obama in 2015 - there was a much bigger crowd around Obama, according to the photos.

In the Times' story in print, which included just one photo, Patriots spokesman Stacey James said the reason fewer players showed up Wednesday than the 50 at the 2015 celebration was because numerous veteran players didn't see a reason to attend the second event in three years.

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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. "In 2015, over 40 football staff were on the stairs".

There is some speculation that Tom Brady bailed on the White House visit - perhaps prompted by wife and Trump foe Giselle Bundchen - because he wants to avoid any backlash in celebrity circles where President Trump is very unpopular, even though the president regularly mixed with celebrities during his long, pre-politics career in the media spotlight.

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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. In 2017, they were seated on the South Lawn".

There is also a history of players skipping a White House visit, although a larger group of Pats players opted out this time for political reasons, i.e., their antipathy towards Trump, perhaps owing to pressure from activist groups.

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But the celebrity web side reported Trump felt "betrayed" by Brady's absence, and made no mention of him at the White House event. Tom Brady was a late scratch from the visit because of a personal issue, and a few other players declined to make the trip. Both those visits were when George W. Bush was president. 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.

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