How badly does the New York Times editorial board want the GOP tax-reform bill to fail? Apparently enough to tweet the phone numbers of seven GOP senators who might be inclined to vote against it.
But Wednesday’s move, which journalism’s Old Gray Lady dubbed an “experiment” to get its viewpoint across, didn’t sit well with the Grand Old Party leadership.
In fact, GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel slammed the Times’ maneuver.
“NYT published Republican senators’ phone numbers in order to push their liberal agenda,” McDaniel tweeted. “Can we now stop pretending that the NYT isn’t a political organization?”
In response, the GOP also tweeted the Times’ switchboard number and urged the public to “let them know how you feel about their liberal bias.”
And numerous social media users called out the Times, calling it “a Super PAC” and questioning whether it was ethical for the publication to issue a direct call to action to its readers.
Passage of the tax-reform bill, of course, would be a major legislative victory for President Donald Trump.
But in a series of tweets, the Times criticized the plan and asked readers to contact moderate Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bob Corker of Tennessee, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Jerry Moran of Kansas.
“Contact @SenJohnMcCain and @JeffFlake, particularly if you live in Arizona, and tell them to oppose the tax bill: It would add more than $1.4 trillion to the deficit over 10 years without helping the middle class,” read one of the tweets.
The Times explained its move.
“This morning, the Times editorial board is tweeting here to urge the Senate to reject a tax bill that hurts the middle class & the nation’s fiscal health,” the Times’ Opinion Twitter account said.
The Times also took a swipe at Trump, accusing him of tweeting questionable videos about Muslims on Wednesday morning, as a distraction to discourage questions about the tax bill.
“Don’t let Trump’s tweets of Islamophobic conspiracy theories distract you,” the newspaper tweeted. “Call your senator and tell him or her that #thetaxbillhurts.”
It remained unclear if this was the first time the paper’s editorial board undertook such an effort. A Times spokesperson told Politico on Wednesday only that the approach was an “experiment” to get the anti-GOP message out.
“The Editorial Board has been writing for weeks about concerns over the tax legislation pending in Congress,” Times senior vice president of communications Eileen Murphy said. “This was an experiment in using a different platform to get that message out. We emphasized to our audience that this was the position of the Editorial Board in particular, not of Times Opinion generally.”