Not Just Bret Stephens: Here’s That Time Lou Dobbs Took a Dig at Obama Over Bedbugs


The ongoing bedbug-fueled implosion of New York Times columnist Bret Stephens appears to have few redeeming qualities, but that’s because you’re just not looking hard enough, or aren’t hard up enough for Labor Day Weekend content.

Let’s face it, the Bret Stephens “bedbug” saga is bad. Really bad. First, he tried to get a college professor named Dave Karpf in trouble for calling him a metaphorical bedbug on Twitter. Then, he quit Twitter in a huff, and went on TV to compare the insult with the campaigns of terror by unnamed “totalitarian” regimes. Then Trump came along and ruined the joke.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, Stephens penned a column that unsubtly referenced his feud with Karpf, conflated it with the Holocaust, and exposed the petty nature of the endeavor by containing a link to a Google search that read “Jews as bedbugs.”

Times editors later claimed that they added the link after Stephens submitted the piece, but did not eliminate the very likely possibility that they asked Stephens for the link, then inserted it.

Because I work in online news, I spent a good bit of time wracking my brain for a hot take on this Bret Stephens thing, mainly as a perverse mental exercise. Anyone familiar with hot-takeology will tell you that there’s almost no turd that can’t be polished into a bit of contrarian clickbait, but this one really had me stumped.

Eureka!, thought I. The meta-hot take is that Bret Stephens has done the world a favor by achieving the un-hot-takeable! But by positing that hot take, I have paradoxically disproven it. The Bret Stephens Bedbug Conundrum is born.

But then I thought about Stephens’ rigorous research methods and protocols, and so I searched “Obama Bedbugs” to see what would come up, to reverse-engineer our tenth piece of bedbug-related content.

Lo and behold, I found a clip of late-night host Stephen Colbert — then in character as a right-wing pundit — blaming then-President Barack Obama for a 2012 outbreak of bedbugs.

And even better, there was a 2013 clip of Fox Business host Lou Dobbs taking a pretty left-field dig at Obama, and making a disgustingly glib reference to the murder rate in Chicago.

“Some quick housekeeping here,” Dobbs said — because bedbugs —  “topping our list of the top 10 cities with bed bugs in this country, knocking Cincinnati from the top spot… well, President Obama’s hometown, Chicago Illinois, murder capital of the world, bed bug… well not the world, the country, bed bug capital of this country.”

But did Obama complain to Dobbs’ boss or whine that this was just like the Holocaust? He did not. There’s your current peg.

So there is your double-hot take. Bret Stephens’ misfortunes have resulted in one piece of Labor Day content, and introduced a new method of research to online journalists, who have previously never used ham-fisted Google searches for inspiration.

I also learned that bedbug is not a compound word, it is two words, but I do not care, and I’m sure it would mess up SEO anyway.

Watch the clips above, via ABC News and Fox Business Network.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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