Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

New York Times' Bret Stephens loses his shit, quits Twitter because he's been called a "bedbug"

Screenshot: MSNBC (YouTube)

The New York Times’ Bret Stephens is not, as you may have heard, a bedbug. Bedbugs are notably persistent little creatures, refusing to vacate the turf they’ve infected and persevering against attacks in order to scurry away and continue their work another day. Stephens, on the other hand, has done the online equivalent of rolling over onto his back with legs stiff in the air after the grievous insult of being called a “bedbug” in a tweet by associate professor, Dave Karpf.

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Responding to Stuart Thompson saying “there are bedbugs in the NYT newsroom,” Karpf pointed out that Stephens—a journalist who thinks climate change isn’t anything to worry about, America should hurry up on starting WWIII, and, most relevant of all, that millennials are a generation who “specialize in being offended”—is, in his own way, a metaphorical bedbug.

Stephens replied, as you do, by finding a tweet he wasn’t tagged in and emailing a complaint to Karpf with his goddamned “university provost” copied on it in an attempt to get him in trouble.

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The full email is full worth reading, especially because it includes lines like: “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.”

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This deeply weird email made the rounds last night, picking up a lot of steam with anyone who appreciates the simple premise of a guy who rails against PC culture and “safe spaces” getting heated up about being called a “bedbug.”

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It also seemed particularly ridiculous to anyone who writes online in 2019, who, as an inexplicable part of the job, frequently receives far, far worse than bug-based insults.

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All of this extra attention led to Stephens making good on a two-year-old promise to quit Twitter for good this morning.

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In case you’re wondering how Stephen’s been doing since, expecting that there’s absolutely no way he would go on TV to compare being called a bedbug on Twitter with the dehumanizing treatment of people living under totalitarian governments, well...

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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.