Twitter Erupts at Bret Stephens’ WWII Column With a Stunning and Not-Very-Subtle Reference to ‘Bedbugs’


Bret Stephens

Online critics erupted after Bret Stephens included a not-so-subtle — and highly dubious — “bedbugs” quote in his latest New York Times column, just days after deactivating his Twitter account for trying to bully and professionally intimidate a professor who jokingly called him a “bedbug” on Twitter.

Topped with a massive photo of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, Stephens’ latest column, entitled “World War II and the Ingredients of Slaughter,” cited an alleged quote from Polish Nazi sympathizer watching Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto burn: “The bedbugs are on fire. The Germans are doing a great job.” Some quick online sleuthing, however, suggested that Stephens may have carelessly misinterpreted the line.

But it was the broader implication of Stephens’ argument that inflamed his online critics, who were aghast at its audacious framing and exceedingly self-defensive nature.


As some pointed out after a cursory Google Books search, Stephens use of the “bedbugs” quote as a reference to Jews is of dubious credibility.

Others called out the Times editors for abetting Stephens’ stubborn grudge-holding and not saving the columnist from himself.

But Stephens lashing out at his critics was not at all a surprise to some.

And even the original target of Stephens’ ire, George Washington media studies professor Dave Karpf, weighed in, with a more sorrowful than sarcastic reaction.

Screengrab via MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.’

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