White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders encouraged Americans to flood the New York Times switchboard in protest over an anonymous op-ed from a member of the Trump Administration.
Calling the author an “anonymous coward” and a “gutless loser,” Sanders tweeted the opinion desk’s phone number, urging Trump supporters to ask about the identity of the writer, who criticized Trump’s “amorality” and poor management skills.
“The media’s wild obsession with the identity of the anonymous coward is recklessly tarnishing the reputation of thousands of great Americans who proudly serve our country and work for President Trump,” she wrote.
The Times defended the choice to grant anonymity to the author because he or she is “a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.”
On Wednesday, Trump called for the Times to disclose the author’s identity, calling it a threat to national security.
“If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to the government at once!” he tweeted.
The tactic echoed something Trump did during the 2016 campaign, when he retaliated against Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham over criticism by sharing his cell phone number. Graham eventually had to change his phone number.
It’s also happened to members of the Trump Administration. In June, the news site Splinter shared Trump aide Stephen Miller’s personal phone number, leading Twitter to suspend the accounts of those who shared the number or the article.
“It’s against our policies to share other people’s private information on Twitter, including directly linking to that information. Today, we temporarily blocked accounts that shared this information until they deleted the Tweet that violated our rules,” a Twitter spokesperson said at the time.