The whole Patriots picture fiasco is a total nothingburger

Trump recognizes player who isn't there
Trump recognizes player who isn't there

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Story highlights

  • The New England Patriots visited the White House on April 19
  • Some players skipped the visit

(CNN)Following an appearance by the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots at the White House on Wednesday, pictures started circulating on the Internet comparing the 2017 attendance with President Trump with what it looked like when the team was at the White House in 2015 with President Obama.

First, the photos.
Here's Thursday:
    U.S. President Donald Trump poses for photographs with the New England Patriots during a celebration of the team's Super Bowl victory on the South Lawn at the White House April 19, 2017.
    And here's 2015:
    President Barack Obama holds a New England Patriots team football jersey, flanked by New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, left, and team owner Robert Kraft, during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 23, 2015.
    The implication, of course, is that there were a lot more Patriots who wanted to come and meet President Obama than who wanted to meet President Trump. Liberals quickly seized on the photos as evidence that President Trump is deeply unpopular and someone that even our professional athletes don't want to meet. Even his much-ballyhooed pal Tom Brady decided to skip it!
    Turns out that the photos that everyone was citing were, well, not an apples-to-apples comparison. The Patriots tweeted out the two pictures just before 2 pm with this important context: "These photos lack context. Facts: In 2015, over 40 football staff were on the stairs. In 2017, they were seated on the South Lawn."
    So, well, that's that. And, for what it's worth, Brady didn't come to the White House in 2015 either!
    Trump, of course, seized the opportunity to blast the New York Times, who initially made the comparison.
    Here's the thing: The fact that the photos weren't a totally fair comparison of the number of Patriots staff and players who were at the White House in 2015 and 2017 is sort of besides the point.
    And that point is that, well, comparisons like this are dumb. WHO CARES how many Patriots come to the White House ceremony? Let's say that there are 200 (or so) people in the Patriots organization. What they think of Donald Trump or Barack Obama is totally immaterial when you consider that more than 120 million votes were cast for president in 2016. Plus, a small-ish group of (mostly) very wealthy professional athletes is a representative sample of only very wealthy professional athletes -- of which there aren't a large number in this country.
    One other thing: Even if zero Patriots showed up for the ceremony at the White House, Trump would still be president. Just as the president's fixation on fudging the crowd size for his inauguration was totally pointless, so too is this debate. It just doesn't mean anything important or say anything profound about his presidency.
    There are lots and lots of legitimate criticisms of how Trump has governed over his first 91 days in office. The number of Patriots willing to come to the White House to meet him is not one of them.