SMPA professor tweet calling New York Times columnist a ‘bedbug’ goes viral

Updated: Aug. 27, 2019 at 1:58 p.m.

A School of Media and Public Affairs professor was criticized by a conservative New York Times columnist Monday for calling him a “bedbug.”

After a Slate reporter tweeted that bedbugs infested the second, third and fourth floors of The Times’ offices, Dave Karpf, an SMPA associate professor, republished the tweet and wrote “the bedbugs are a metaphor” to columnist Bret Stephens. Hours later, the columnist complained about the jab in an email to Karpf and Provost Forrest Maltzman.

“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,” Stephens wrote to Karpf. “That would take some genuine courage and intellectual integrity on your part.”

Karpf tweeted Stephen’s email, which has received more than 3,000 retweets and more than 28,000 likes since it was posted Monday evening. The post also garnered a response from Maltzman, who wrote that Karpf “speaks for himself” and invited Stephens to campus to discuss engaging in civil discourse on social media.

After the post went viral, Stephens announced he will deactivate his Twitter account, saying it’s “time to do what I long ago promised to do. Twitter is a sewer.” The columnist, who is also an MSNBC contributor, appeared on the network Tuesday and said the offer for Karpf to visit his home still stood.

Karpf told The Washington Post that Stephens was unprofessional to include Maltzman in his email. He added that he was unsure how the columnist found the tweet because it had not gone viral by the time he received Stephen’s email.

“He not only thinks I should be ashamed of what I wrote, he thinks that I should also get in trouble for it,” Karpf told The Post. “That’s an abuse of his power.”

Editor’s note:
This post was updated to include Forrest Maltzman’s response.

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