White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has urged Trump supporters to call the New York Times and tell them to release the name of the anonymous op-ed contributor who claimed to be leading a “quiet resistance” against the president from inside the administration.
The number she included was the general switchboard number, rather than a direct line for the opinion section. Now, Times staff completely unconnected to the essay are suddenly under a telephonic deluge.
Pia Peterson, the New York Times magazine photo assistant, tweeted about these unexpected calls:
Not every caller was quite so critical. Peterson reported one call from Fort Worth, Texas, that left her in tears: “It’s crazy what you all have to put up with, thank you for all that you do for our free speech.” Sopan Deb, on the paper’s culture desk, received a similarly supportive call.
Kenneth P. Vogel, a reporter in the Washington bureau, posted a video of one emotional caller thanking him, and the paper, “a million times over. It is the most hopeful I have felt about our government in a long, long time…I’m so grateful for it. Thank you, thank you.”
The switchboard number Sanders provided also leads to the Times subscription hotline. While they were on the line, many callers said they decided to take the opportunity to make the leap and become subscribers:
In an email to Quartz, a spokesperson for the New York Times said they could neither confirm nor deny whether they’d noticed a bump in subscriptions (“Typically, we only discuss new subscription data with earnings.”)
In an attached press release, however, Times CEO Mark Thompson noted that in the second quarter of 2018, they’d added “109,000 net new digital-only subscriptions, of which 68,000 were to our core news bundle,” resulting in a total of 3.8 million total subscriptions. “Our subscribers who came to us around the 2016 Election and post-Election periods continue to retain better than previous cohorts,” he said—suggesting that the White House’s repeated attacks on the paper may not be having quite the desired effect.