White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took a different approach to the anonymous senior Trump administration official who wrote a scathing New York Times op-ed essay earlier this week. She tweeted out the phone number for the “failing” New York Times’s opinion desk and asked her more than 3 million followers to call and ask who the “gutless loser” is who wrote it.
But the paper has seemingly received a number of calls in support of its decision to publish the anonymous op-ed, written by someone who is said to be part of the “quiet resistance” within the administration where “unsung heroes” are battling the “erratic behavior” of the president.
“For those of you asking for the identity of the anonymous coward,” said Sanders, attaching a picture of the following statement.
“The media’s wild obsession with the identity of the anonymous coward is recklessly tarnishing the reputation of thousands of great American who proudly serve our country and work for President Trump. Stop. If you want to know who this gutless loser is, call the opinion desk of the failing NYT at 212-556-1234, and ask them. They are the only ones complicit in this deceitful act. We stand united together and fully support our President Donald J. Trump.”
Times reporters have since taken to Twitter to share some of the other types of calls they’ve received.
“This is a number that Sarah Huckabee Sanders posted, and I just want to thank you a million times over,” said one woman who left a voicemail. She thanked the paper and said she was grateful they published the story.
“It is the most hopeful I have felt about our government in a long, long time,” she said. “I know I was supposed to call this to complain, but this isn’t a complaint, this is of appreciation.”
Other callers have reportedly left similar messages, expressing their support for the paper and its unusual decision to publish an anonymous op-ed. The Times said publishing the story anonymously, which was requested by the author, was the “only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.”
It is unknown exactly how many of the calls were in support of the paper and its decision versus how many were against. In an email to Newsweek on Friday, head of communications for the Times, Eileen Murphy, said they had a “significant uptick in phone calls [Thursday]. As you would expect, there was a range of points of view, some positive about the Times, some not,” she added.
Murphy said they did not have the ability to break down the general makeup of the calls.
New York Times National Security Editor Amy Fiscus tweeted that “many have called instead to voice their support for the Op-Ed and the NYT news coverage of the Trump administration.” She said one person told a fellow reporter to “Print the news, honey!”
“Well, Sarah Sanders left your number so we could complain, but I support The New York Times,” another caller said. “I’m from Nebraska. Go, New York Times!”
Kenneth Vogel of The Times posted on Twitter Friday that calls continued to roll in. He received more than 300 voicemails that morning, and a fellow colleague said the calls were “largely positive.”
Since the op-ed was published Wednesday, more than two dozen administration officials have publicly denied being the author. Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky suggested Thursday that any White House officials with a security clearance should have to submit to a lie detector test in hopes of smoking out the person who so publicly bashed their boss.
“Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back,” the senior administration official wrote. “Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president.”
Trump has since called the op-ed and the anonymous senior official “gutless,” “fake news,” and “treason.” He also suggested the Times “must, for national security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!”
Update: This story has been updated to include Kenneth Vogel’s post about the continued high volume of calls.