A coalition of conservative activists has been mining hundreds of journalists’ old social media posts and strategically releasing the most damaging ones in an effort to discredit outlets they regard as hostile to President Trump, according to a Sunday report in the New York Times.
The Times report, which cites four people familiar with the operation, said that activists had compiled “dossiers” on hundreds of employees at top news organizations — not all of whom are involved with political coverage.
“Only a fraction of what the network claims to have uncovered has been made public,” the Times added.
Arthur Schwartz, named by the Times as one of the “central players in the operation,” declined to comment to TheWrap.
The pattern of the operation has become clear in recent weeks: A journalist at CNN or the Times or the Washington Post suddenly trends on Twitter after years-old tweets resurface, usually in a story on a conservative website or in a tweet from a high-profile political player.
A public apology follows, sometimes accompanied by disciplinary action from their employer — regardless of how big or small their job is at the news organization.
When old tweets with homophobic language were discovered on White House reporter Kaitlan Collins’ feed, CNN stood by her after she apologized. When anti-Semitic ones were found on photojournalist Mohammed Elshamy’s accounts, CNN accepted his resignation. Last week, the Times told TheWrap it was “reviewing next steps” after a senior editor apologized for old tweets with language called ant-Semitic.
Elshamy’s tweets were initially highlighted in July by Schwartz, a GOP operative known for his relationships with key administration figures like Donald Trump, Jr., and Anthony Scaramucci. He told TheWrap at that time that Elshamy’s tweets were initially found by “an oppo team that works for a group of President Trump’s supporters outside the administration.”
In 2017, Schwartz tweeted screenshots of Collins using the word “fag” and joking about not wanting to live with a lesbian in 2011.
In July, Schwarts told TheWrap, “I am not on the oppo team. I’m just a private citizen doing what I can to support the President and his administration.”