Bret Stephens Backs Out of Debate With ‘Bedbug’ Professor Because Event Wouldn’t Be Closed to the Public


Bret Stephens

New York Times columnist and vigorously selective defender of free speech Bret Stephens abruptly backed out of scheduled debate he agreed to with the university professor who mocked him as a “bedbug” on Twitter because the host wouldn’t close the event to the public.

Stephens infamously stepped on a series of rakes in response to Dave Karpf, a George Washington University media studies professor, off-handedly calling him a “bedbug” on Twitter: first by lamely trying to pull a power move by threatening Karpf’s job, then by shamelessly trying to excuse his arrogant ploy on cable news, and finally, by writing an absurd, barely-disguised, spiteful column that likened Karpf’s joke to anti-Semitic, Nazi oppression.

According to Slate, the Times columnist had previously accepted the public invitation from GWU, which offered to host an open discussion about civil online discourse featuring himself and Karpf. The pair had agreed on October 28th as the date of the event.

But right before the final details of the event were completed, Stephens reportedly raised a series of concerns to the organizers, which ultimately led him to pull out of the debate.

“The thing that I can share is that he had decided that he was only willing to come if we made it not a public event,” Karpf told Slate. “Students could be in the room, but he didn’t want to allow this story to continue anymore. They talked with him, and what it came down to was, the only way he’d do the event is if the public wasn’t allowed to see it. I said, ‘I think that’s really unreasonable.’ They came back to him and said, ‘Karpf thinks that’s unreasonable.’ And he said, ‘OK, we’re not doing it.'”

Stephens has used his prestigious perch at the Times to routinely chastise and mock college students as being too self-selectively sheltered from other points of view and allegedly in thrall to political correctness run amok. A sampling of his columns include:

“The High Church of the Low Blow”

“Free Speech and the Necessity of Discomfort”

“Leave Your Safe Spaces”

“The Dying Art of Disagreement”

Foot, meet rake, yet again.

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