In a rare call to action, the New York Times editorial board took over the newspaper’s opinion Twitter account to lobby against the Republican tax bill. The political action urged readers to call seven GOP senators and tell them to vote down the bill.
The Gray Lady ventured into a gray area of political activism for four hours on Wednesday, when the @nytopinion Twitter account’s bio was changed to say that the newspaper’s editorial board was “temporarily taking over this acct. to urge the Senate to reject a tax bill that hurts the middle class and the nation's fiscal health.”
The board also tweeted a disclaimer for any followers who may not have seen the updated bio.
Using the hashtag #thetaxbillhurts, the board posted dozens of tweets asking the account’s 650,000 followers to call the lawmakers “and tell them you oppose the tax bill.”
The account specifically listed the phone numbers of Senators John McCain (R-Arizona), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) – the seven Republicans considered to be on-the-fence about voting for the bill.
In a series of tweets, the board cites the most recent report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), tweeting that the legislation would “add more than $1.4 trillion to the deficit over 10 years without helping the middle class.”
The board also tweeted specific information about how certain provisions in the bill would impact taxpayers.
One tweet referenced President Donald Trump reposting Islamophobic videos on his Twitter account earlier in the day.
“Don't let Trump's tweets of Islamophobic conspiracy theories distract you. Call your senator and tell him or her that #thetaxbillhurts,” the board tweeted.
People took to Twitter to voice their outrage, saying that the left-leaning publication went over the edge to blatantly influence their audience’s political bias.
NYT published Republican senators’ phone numbers in order to push their liberal agenda. Can we now stop pretending that the NYT isn't a political organization?
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) November 29, 2017
Take a screenshot of this and tweet it back at the NYT if the editorial board ever complains about corporations trying to influence politics again https://t.co/fiyY0xLmSq
— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) November 29, 2017
Daily Mail US politics editor David Martosko tweeted that he couldn’t remember “a big newspaper (even under the guise of 'opinion') ever using its brand to directly activate voters to deluge a lawmaker with demands.”
I can't remember a big newspaper (even under the guise of "opinion") ever using its brand to directly activate voters to deluge a lawmaker with demands. Not a good look for the Times. https://t.co/mWzpJ8TQeO
— David Martosko (@dmartosko) November 29, 2017
The official Republican Twitter account posted the number for the New York Times and urged their followers to contact the newspaper and “let them know how you feel about their liberal bias.”
In response, editorial writer Vikas Bajaj tweeted: “It is the job of editorial writers & editorial boards to advocate for policies we agree with and against proposals we don't.”
It is the job of editorial writers & editorial boards to advocate for policies we agree with and against proposals we don't. That's what we were doing on @nytopinion today.
— Vikas Bajaj (@vikasbajaj) November 29, 2017
In October, the New York Times issued updated their guidelines for their journalist’s use of social media, which said that “newsroom employees should avoid posting anything on social media that damages our reputation for neutrality and fairness.”
“If our journalists are perceived as biased or if they engage in editorializing on social media, that can undercut the credibility of the entire newsroom,” the newspaper wrote.
The New York Times’ political action tweets followed an article written on the Times’ opinion page by the board, who criticized the tax legislation as an “enormously unpopular tax bill, which lavishes benefits on corporations and wealthy families.”
“Even by the collapsing standards of Congress, this is astounding,” the board wrote. “This is really about stuffing the pockets of people like Mr. Trump.”
The board added that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) was “trying to rush the bill to a vote by the end of the week” in order to “give lawmakers and the public as little time as possible to analyze and understand the bill.”
“Republican senators have a choice. They can follow the will of their donors and vote to take money from the middle class and give it to the wealthiest people in the world. Or they can vote no, to protect the public and the financial health of the government. There’s no compromise on that,” the board wrote.