In an article published earlier Thursday, the Times revealed that the whistleblower at the center of a political showdown in Washington is a male CIA officer who had previously been detailed to the White House.
The “exclusive details” were revealed in a report based on corroborated accounts of three unnamed sources, not the whistleblower himself. The Times also reported that lawyers for the whistleblower refused to confirm that he worked for the CIA and said that publishing information about him was "dangerous." (Fox News has not confirmed The Times' report.)
The whistleblower filed a formal nine-page complaint accusing the White House of covering up a July phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked the foreign leader to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
The Times’ identification claims to be the most publicly known information about the whistleblower. The paper’s decision was largely rebuked online, even becoming the number one trending topic with the hashtag #CancelNYT.
Trump reportedly pondered who gave the whistleblower the information and said the person is “close to a spy,” according to audio of his remarks at a private event in a New York hotel obtained by The Los Angeles Times. Some critics of the Gray Lady’s decision feel that the whistleblower's safety could be at risk.
The New York Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Y’all really doxxed the whistleblower? If anything happens to him/her, it’s on you, #CancelNYT,” tweeted one person.
“Our country’s heroes are worth far more than clicks and views. Doxxing the whistleblower endangers the individual’s life, which is especially heinous considering the whistleblower went through proper government channels. The NYT protects Trump sources better than this. #CancelNYT,” wrote Dr. Eugene Gu.
A source inside the Times who wasn’t involved in the story defended the paper, telling Fox News that the White House and Justice Department reportedly knew the whistleblower was a CIA officer before the report was published.
“It isn’t as if the Times was providing a road map for the White House to hunt him down,” the insider said.
In addition to canceling subscriptions, others even called for the firing of Times’ executive editor Dean Baquet, who had issued a statement explaining why the Gray Lady chose to publish the information
"Dean Baquet should absolutely lose his job over this. Quickly. The damage to the whistleblower's safety is already done, but @nytimes must condemn this decision to protect future sources & whistleblowers. This cannot be left as an acceptable precedent. #CancelNYT," Twitter user @KristinMinkDC wrote.
Baquet responded to the criticism in an article published Thursday night saying the Times decided to publish “limited information” about the whistleblower to give him credibility against Trump’s claims that the unidentified person was a “political hack job.”
“The president and some of his supporters have attacked the credibility of the whistle-blower, who has presented information that has touched off a landmark impeachment proceeding,” Baquet said. “We wanted to provide information to readers that allows them to make their own judgments about whether or not he is credible.”
Critics online appeared unfazed by those who defended the paper, such as Times contributing writer Wajahat Ali, who called on the public to “reconsider” their decision to cancel their subscriptions.
“It employs fantastic journalists & breaks important stories. It's also under direct assault from Trump & his supporters,” he tweeted. “I write for them but I also publicly disagree w/ some decisions, like today's. Yet, the good far outweighs the bad.”
Many online expressed that they had enough with the Old Gray Lady, which had caught backlash for a string of editorial gaffes including a report last week on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The supposed bombshell piece failed to mention that the alleged victim refused to be interviewed and did not recall the purported sexual assault.