NY Times’ Bret Stephens Vaguely Threatens—and Emails Boss of—Professor Who Called Him ‘Bedbug’


Bret Stephens

New York Times columnist and ostensible free speech champion Bret Stephens wrote a vaguely threatening email to an associate professor at George Washington University — and cc’ed the university provost — who had jokingly referred to the op-ed writer as a “bedbug” on Twitter.

The professor, Dave Karpf, who studies media and public affairs, published a screenshot of the email he received Monday night from Stephens, who claimed an unnamed “someone” had “just pointed out” Karpf’s insult to him, complained that the professor had “set a new standard” for poisoning the discourse. The Times columnist went on to effectively physically challenge Karpf, inviting him to “come to my home, meet my wife and kids, talk to us for a few minutes, and then call me a ‘bedbug’ to my face.”

Karpf’s initial joke on Twitter, posted just hours before, was in response to news of a recent bedbug outbreak in the New York Times newsroom.

Stephens’ over-the-top response to a Tweet that notably did not use his Twitter handle, as well as the not-so-subtle attempt to get Karpf in trouble with the professor’s boss at the college, seemed to run counter to the proclaimed free speech champion’s disgust with thin-skinned “PC culture” and societal “safe spaces” where no one has a sense of humor anymore. Notably, some of Stephens’ past op-ed headlines at the Times have included titles such as:

“The High Church of the Low Blow”

“Free Speech and the Necessity of Discomfort”

“Leave Your Safe Spaces”

“The Dying Art of Disagreement”

The tetchy, how-dare-you tone and speak-to-your-manager snitch move by Stephens came across as more than a little hypocritical to many media watchers online. This reaction was especially true among women and people of color who routinely face — and ignore — rape and death threats they receive on Twitter.

Screengrab of New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, via MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

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