Bret Stephens, former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post from 2002 to 2004, has deleted his Twitter account after being called a "bed bug." Associate professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, David Karpf, took a story about bedbugs and applied it to Stephens, who is now a columnist for the New York Times.
Karpf said that: "The bed bugs are a metaphor. The bed bugs are Bret Stephens"
The tweet got very little attention, receiving a total of nine likes and zero retweets. Still, not too long after, Stephens sent an email to both Karpf and his employer, where he said: "I’m often amazed about the things supposedly decent people are prepared to say about other people — people they’ve never met — on Twitter. "I think you’ve set a new standard," Stephens continued. "I would welcome the opportunity for you 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. That would take some genuine courage and intellectual integrity on your part."
Before deleting his account, Stephens also wrote: "Time to do what I long ago promised to do. Twitter is a sewer. It brings out the worst in humanity. I sincerely apologize for any part I’ve played in making it worse, and to anyone I’ve ever hurt. Thanks to all of my followers, but I’m deactivating this account.”
Stephens is often known for his right-of-center opinions, as well as his his contrarian opinions on global warming. Often being called a denier, he himself disagrees with the term.
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.— davekarpf (@davekarpf) August 27, 2019
In addition to working for the New York Times, Stephens has also written several books.