The Mirror

NYT’s Bret Stephens Lets The Bedbugs Bite — He Just Quit Twitter After Being Called A Name


Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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In a move fit for a mouse more than a man, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens quit Twitter after being called a “bedbug” by a George Washington University professor.

Stephens went on MSNBC Tuesday morning to explain why.

“I’m going to be careful with my words because I know these are going to be examined carefully,” he told host Chris Jansen. “I think Twitter brings out the worst in its users.”

Wimpy. Wimpy. Wimpy.

Stephens said being called a “bedbug” is “dehumanizing.” He acknowledged that, yes, he’s been called worse, but added, “There’s a bad history of being analogized to insects that goes back to totalitarian regimes.”

President Trump could not resist jumping into the bed scandal.

The fun started Monday after Slate’s Ashley Feinberg reported that the New York Times newsroom was infested with bedbugs. Yeah, there’s an internal memo and everything. Gross, right?

The Twittersphere had a field day. One thing led to another. Yada Yada Yada. Dave Karpf, a George Washington University associate professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs who no one ever heard of called Stephens a bedbug.

Stephens is apparently a little thin-skinned.

Karpf explained: “This afternoon, I tweeted a brief joke about a well-known NYT op-Ed columnist. It got 9 likes and 0 retweets. I did not @ him. He does not follow me. He just emailed me, cc’ing my university provost. He is deeply offended that I called him a metaphorical bedbug.”

Feinberg couldn’t contain herself. “I’m sorry I promise I’ll stop tweeting about it but I cannot think of a single funnier thing to get absolutely fucking livid over than ‘bedbug,'” she tweeted late Monday night. “Everything is so bad but right now, truly, we have been blessed.”

By 10:13 p.m. Monday night Karpf finally caved and gave social media what it wanted — the letter that Stephens had sent to Karpf’s provost at George Washington University. Arm twisting was not required.

Karpf said he would not have spilled the letter had Stephens not cc’d his boss. He called it an “intimidation” tactic on the part of Stephens and therefore fair game to share. “I wouldn’t have posted the email if he had sent it only to me,” he explained. “He did that to make it an act of intimidation.”

Still, the professor likes to see the glass half full.

“Hey, at least he called me Dr. Karpf,” he conceded.