A prominent sports journalist criticized Robert Kraft for being “friends” with President Donald Trump after the New England Patriots owner helped facilitate the transport of much-needed medical supplies amid the coronavirus.
Kraft arranged for the team plane to transport 1.2 million masks from China to Massachusetts, where one of the largest outbreaks of the coronavirus has been met with a shortfall of personal protection equipment.
— Derek Kudjer (@koojababy) April 2, 2020
Multiple outlets reported on Wednesday that more than 300,000 of the masks will be sent to the hard-hit state of New York.
Jemele Hill, a contributing writer for The Atlantic who once worked for ESPN, sought to tamp down the praise Kraft was receiving for his act of charity in a time of deep need.
“This is where I remind people that Robert Kraft is friends with Donald Trump and gave to his campaign,” she tweeted on Thursdsay. “It’s incredible the Kraft family is doing this, but hope they understand their money helped empower their friend.”
Hill also responded to critics who said now was not the time to be assigning blame.
“It’s not about blame is about consequences. And we always say ‘later’ and guess what? Later never comes. We say that with school shootings, too. And how we doing with that one, champ?” she said.
The former national columnist for ESPN.com touted the supposed urgency of the issue as a reason for speaking out against Kraft’s beneficent gesture.
“When people say that, they act as if we’re disagreeing about campaign finance. This is about life and death. Right and wrong. I banged on the Dolphins owner for the same thing,” Hill said in another tweet.
So what you’re saying is, don’t help Americans because it’s going to help get Trump re-elected?? Isn’t that the kind of president we want? People are willing to sacrifice their own time, money, and resources to help out, and this is the backlash they receive ? amazing
— Ryen (@RyenM_20) April 2, 2020
Twitter commenters blasted Hill for her polemical take.
“So what you’re saying is, don’t help Americans because it’s going to help get Trump re-elected? Isn’t that the kind of president we want? People are willing to sacrifice their own time, money, and resources to help out, and this is the backlash they receive amazing,” one commenter said.
“Huge thanks to the Krafts”
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who said his bidding for masks in the United States had been met with rival bids from other states and the federal government, negotiated with the support of Patriots team president Jonathan Kraft, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“I’ve never seen so much red tape in so many ways and obstacles that we had to overcome,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said, according to the Journal. “In today’s world, those of us who are fortunate to make a difference have a significant responsibility to do so with all the assets we have available to us.”
The Kraft family paid $2 million, or half of the cost, for the masks. More than 1.7 masks were ordered, but 500,000 of those could not fit on the plane. They will be sent in a later shipment.
“No days off,” Baker wrote via Twitter with a photo of the Patriots team plane being loaded. “Thanks to some serious teamwork, Massachusetts is set to receive over 1 million N95 masks for our front-line workers. Huge thanks to the Krafts and several dedicated partners for making this happen.”
(Reuters contributed to this report.)