On Wednesday, the Patriots are scheduled to appear at the White House, the first championship team Trump will host. And when the president stands with the team for their photo op, there will be no shortage of competing political messages. Since the Super Bowl, which was played 16 days after the inauguration, several players—most notably Devin McCourty and Chris Long—have announced that they will not make the trip for political reasons. (They participated in a video recently discussing their decision.) The Patriots, and the NFL, too, have found themselves unavoidably linked with a divisive political moment. The league will sell patriotism, Trump will sell himself as a winner, and the absent players will be hailed by the Trump resistance. Spencer expects to be tweeting, too, capitalizing again on the opportunity for attention. After all, it worked so well the last time.
But for Spencer, there’s a twist: He was actually wrong about his charge. The Patriots aren't the “whitest” team in the NFL. The team couldn't exactly leap to its own defense—nobody wants to start publicly sorting players by race, for one thing. (The Patriots did not respond to a request for comment.) Statistics don’t bear Spencer out. Still, the way the incendiary message came to divide fans anyway, and to stain the Patriots, speaks volumes about the power of confirmation bias, opportunism and the power of online trolling in the time of Trump.
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