Yet another New York Times staffer has caused controversy on Twitter this month.
Earlier this month, the Times demoted editor Jonathan Weisman for his problematic tweets. Then an editor at the newspaper, Tom Wright-Piersanti, apologized and deleted old offensive tweets.
Now, Times conservative columnist Bret Stephens has deleted his Twitter account after a George Washington University associate professor, David Karpf, made a joke about him.
Karpf quote-tweeted a tweet about bedbugs in the New York Times newsroom, adding, “The bedbugs are a metaphor. The bedbugs are Bret Stephens.”
Karpf didn’t tag Stephens, meaning Stephens didn’t receive a notification about the tweet about him. But Stephens found the tweet nonetheless and e-mailed Karpf, copying his university’s provost to complain. Stephens claimed Karpf “set a new standard” with his remark and called for him 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.”
Karpf posted a screenshot of the e-mail from Stephens. Karpf told iMediaEthics by e-mail, “I haven’t heard from the NYTimes, and haven’t spoken directly with Stephens. He has accepted GWU’s offer to come to campus and hold this conversation in public with me. I think that’s an appropriate next step, and I look forward to it.”
In an interview on MSNBC, Stephens claimed he had “no intention whatsover to get him in any kind of professional trouble” when he copied Karpf’s boss on his complaint e-mail, instead saying he thought he wanted to make him aware.
He claimed he was upset about the bedbug comment because “there’s a bad history of being analogized to insects that goes back to a lot of totalitarian regimes in the past.”
iMediaEthics has written to the Times to ask if it is reviewing this matter and if it asked Stephens to close his Twitter account.
UPDATE: 8/29/2019 2:19 PM With Karpf’s response