It’s no secret that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick are friends of President Donald Trump. Unless you rely on the broadcast network evening news.
Thirty-four Patriots players joined their coach and team owner in the visit to the White House to honor them on their victory. That visit was overshadowed by the apparent suicide of former teammate Aaron Hernandez, in prison for the murder of Odin Lloyd. All three networks used Hernandez’s death to downgrade the press event into B-roll. Then they skipped the positive things Kraft had to say about Trump or a key, pro-Trump anecdote the president mentioned involving Belichick.
The rest of the media did everything they could to prevent Trump from scoring points, just like normal. Politico described the visit as, “The Alt-Right’s Favorite Team Visits the White House.” Several outlets hyped the number of players who had skipped, like Time and lefty Think Progress.
Some sites promoted an anti-Trump Patriots video. GQ claimed Trump “Seems Pretty Hurt” by quarterback Tom Brady’s skipping the event. Even though Brady had to be broken up over the death of a former member of his offense. ESPN’s Bob Ley said he was “stunned” the Patriots for having anyone go in light of Hernandez’s death.
The Times Sports staff (Who reads the Times for sports?) tweeted out comparison photos from the Patriots’ 2015 visit claiming to show a major disparity in player and staff attendance.
The Patriots immediately debunked that by posting a different photo and then adding a comment saying: “These photos lack context. Facts: In 2015, over 40 football staff were on the stairs. In 2017, they were seated on the South Lawn.” Perhaps, this is why people shouldn’t read the Times for sports.
Thursday morning the president himself tweeted about the Times:
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
The Washington Post was much more honest. As the paper put it, “Robert Kraft lauds President Trump during Tom Brady-less White House visit.” When was the last time you saw anyone “laud”-ing Trump on network news?
Kraft went on to compare the Patriots’ epic, come-from-behind win in Super Bowl 51 to Trump’s presidential victory. The Post ran with the words, even though the networks did not:
“This year’s championship was achieved after falling behind 25 points … that deficit had only been overcome seven times,” he continued. “In that same [manner], a very good friend of mine for over 25 years … launched a campaign for the president … facing odds almost as long as we faced. He persevered to become the 45th president of the United States.”
When Trump introduced Belichick, he told a story of how the coach had sent him a nice letter of support. But when Trump asked if it would be OK to read that letter to “a stadium full of people in a very, very big and important state,” Belichick asked for the letter back and vowed to send another one. Here’s Trump, telling the story the networks didn’t:
“Now, immediately to me, that means he’s going to tone it down because what he said was so nice. And you know what he did? He toned it way up. It was much better. It was much better. He made that the greatest letter, and I did very well in that state. Thank you, coach. That was very good.”
CBS and NBC did make sure to include a cute clip from Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski who interrupted the Sean Spicer presser. But any boost Trump might have gotten among Patriots faithful was denied him by the broadcast networks.
Dan Gainor is the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. He writes frequently about media for Fox News Opinion. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.