Patterico's Pontifications


Bret “Bedbug” Stephens Totally Doesn’t Try to Get Critic Fired

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:21 am

Washington Post:

The tweet seemed harmless enough to David Karpf. The associate professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University took a story that bedbugs had infested the New York Times newsroom as an occasion to dig at his least favorite Times writer, the conservative columnist Bret Stephens.

“The bedbugs are a metaphor,” Karpf wrote on Monday. “The bedbugs are Bret Stephens.”

The Post continues:

The tweet got nine total likes and zero retweets, Karpf said. So the professor was surprised when an email from Stephens popped in a few hours later.

Thanks to Stephens’s decision to copy Karpf’s provost, the email went viral. Karpf’s original tweet now has many, more than nine likes. Karpf is now a 15-minute minor Twitter celebrity and having some fun. And Stephens? He has deactivated his Twitter account, blaming Twitter for bringing out the worst in people. And he and has gone on TV to explain that he totally wasn’t trying to get anyone in trouble.

“I had no intention whatsoever to get him in any kind of professional trouble but … managers should be aware of the way in which their people interact with the rest of the world.” You know, so those people get in professional trouble.

This guy deserves all the mockery coming his way. And a lot is coming his way, most of it retweeted by Karpf.

And then there is this tweet, which is literally Kafkaesque:

Ah, paying attention to idiotic social media statements from members of the New York Times. Just another attack on the free press!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

65 Responses to “Bret “Bedbug” Stephens Totally Doesn’t Try to Get Critic Fired”

  1. In what way is a dispute between an academic and a columnist important to sentient readers in a world where all news is “breaking news” and the reporting of the “breaking news” consists largely of opinions about what might happen next.

    John B Boddie (11ac33)

  2. Is the invitation assignable, and does Stephens serve good food and wine? And does his house have bedbugs?

    Harcourt Fenton Mudd (0c349e)

  3. ok. Here’s the only thing I can think. Calling Jews bloodsuckers and leeches is an old anti-semitic insult. “Bedbugs” is not far off. Stephens is Jewish. Not that hard to think it was an anti-semitic insult. I do wonder, what if he were a liberal. Would the twitter mob have mocked him with such relish? I don’t think so.

    JRH (52aed3)

  4. Stephens was too polite. Not too mention too wordy. “Crawl into a hole and die you pedantic peduncle on the podex of pedagogy” would have been enough.

    nk (dbc370)

  5. There was a ponce writer named Stephens
    He’d a gripe and desire to get even
    Called a bug in a bed
    He went over guy’s head
    And got buggered for his grievance

    Colonel Haiku (1986ab)

  6. Both anti-Trump and climate change skeptic. Yes, Stephens is going to get the bedbugs (that’s most commonly a metaphor for “crazies) of both the left and the right against him.

    nk (dbc370)

  7. What would have been more than ‘enough’ would have been to ignore a tweet that did not even reach a junior high level of humor (as opposed to ‘dehumanizing and unacceptable’).

    To respond at all is bad enough. To invite confrontation and imply cowardice plus bringing his family into the mix when they weren’t mentioned is moronic. To cc the Provost is just off-the-hook lol ridiculous. To claim that he had no intention of getting him into trouble and then follow that with with ‘managers need to know how their people interact with the world’ is almost brilliant in its stupidity.

    Thin skin resulteth in the Streisand Effect.

    Bravo! Bravo!

    harkin (d17996)

  8. Burt Stephens is a neo-con joke. Yeah, I just thought his “manager” should know he’s insulting the great Burt Stephens, ’cause I just like helping people out.

    What a weasel clown.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  9. Now that Stephens is embarrassed, he’s decided Twitter is a “Sewer” as opposed to Sunday, when it was A-OK, what a clown. What’s really sad, is that no matter how clownish his behavior, people will take him seriously because he’s NYT.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  10. He used to be WSJ. I think he was more independent then.

    He shouldn’t have left Twitter. They’re only going to clutter up comments to his tweets, or send him derogatory messages, for a short time.

    Sammy Finkelman (dec35d)

  11. Bret Stephens may have felt this was not a comment on his writing and that may have stimulated his reaction ro it. A right-winger should not find what he writes the most objectionable at the New York Times.

    Unless it was precisely that his writing was closer to his line of thnking so he didn’t want people to read it.

    Sammy Finkelman (dec35d)

  12. Classic Streisand Effect. This will not go well for Stephens.

    Paul Montagu (a2342d)

  13. Definately Streisand effect.

    AZ Bob (885937)

  14. You mean he is now an exceptionally-talented singer and actor, very wealthy, his name a household word, and he made out with Robert Redford and got paid for it?

    nk (dbc370)

  15. Or is it that he lost the respect of “MishMei with brooding tushie”, Yashar Ali, and SevaUT? I know I’d be crushed if that happened.

    nk (dbc370)

  16. 3: “Not that hard to think it was an anti-semitic insult.” Oh, come now. He’s been a bedbug since earnestly that people “don’t know that Trump is headed for a historic defeat,” and hoping to preserve Paul Ryan.

    Harcourt Fenton Mudd (0c349e)

  17. “He shouldn’t have left Twitter.“

    Anyone to the right of Kasich should leave Twitter as fast as their feet will take them.

    Colonel Haiku (1986ab)

  18. May soon be known as the “Stephens Effect”…

    Colonel Haiku (1986ab)

  19. I have to admit, “MishMei with brooding tushie” is a great Twitter handle, though. If it were the title of a Tor sci-fi story, it’d be nominated for a Hugo.

    nk (dbc370)

  20. why so the left has it to themselves, well Dorsey is making sure of that,

    narciso (d1f714)

  21. 14 – not quite.

    More along the lines of hiring someone to bury a land mine in your front yard, having them give you a map plus planting signs pointing out exactly where it is and then running and jumping on it w both feet.

    harkin (d17996)

  22. rules are thou, but not for thee,

    narciso (d1f714)

  23. 14, 21… quien es mas macho, Streisand o Liza Minnelli?

    Colonel Haiku (1986ab)

  24. Lightbulb:

    Q. Is David Karpf a far-leftist?

    The comment makes more sense for a leftist to say.

    A. YES.

    He considered Bret Stephens too conservative for the New York Times.

    He’s anti-Trump and you can tell generally pro-Russia conspiracy theory (but not quite) so he’s not a far, far leftist.

    For more of his wr=iting, see

    He’s quite moderate. Maybe this was his (Karph’s) way of bonding with his audience.

    Or he has got some special reason, which he’s not saying, for being against Bret Stephens.

    Sammy Finkelman (dec35d)

  25. David Karpf explained Micahel Avenatti as an independent operator (not connected with anyone else) which I think is false.

    David Karpf, a professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, viewed Mr. Avenatti as part of a larger phenomenon of “resistance grifters,” or people harnessing anti-Trump outrage for financial gain.

    “People face this overwhelming flow of information, and they lack context and understanding,” Dr. Karpf said. “So anybody who can speak with a confident tone offering some explanation can find an audience.”

    Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wanted to use him.

    Sammy Finkelman (dec35d)


    Dave Karpf, the associate director of SMPA, [School of Media and Public Affairs] said media organizations like The Washington Post and The New York Times often contact him about Trump’s behavior on social media – one of his research specialties. Trump has been more active on social media than past presidents, making Karpf’s expertise on virtual political advocacy and movements more relevant, he said.

    “While there’s always something new to report on in past administrations, we are especially not in normal times right now and that leads to more public attention and media coverage on politics, in particular politics with a technological or communication background,” Karpf said.

    Karpf was quoted in the Washington Examiner earlier this month and Wired late last year about the way Trump used social media to win the election.

    Bret stephens may have dine that because of how respected a person Daid Karpf was.

    Sammy Finkelman (dec35d)

  27. Twitter is bottomless font of stupidity.

    Dave (1bb933)

  28. reminds of of Robert, lne who was a media professor at bowling state university,

    narciso (d1f714)

  29. The hive mind aspects of Twitter fascinate me, and not in a good way.

    The aspect that any famous person (politician/celebrity/athlete/artist etc.), as a consequence of sharing their brilliance with the world, is willing to provide their brand as a platform for any nitwit w a cell phone to share with the audience restroom wall writings is incredible.

    harkin (d17996)

  30. 28 – Mann losing his case is something that should be much bigger news than it is.

    harkin (d17996)

  31. “Dr Mann lost his case because he refused to show in open court his R2 regression numbers (the ‘working out’) behind the world-famous ‘hockey stick’ graph. Real science, not the phony ‘consensus’ version, requires open access to data, so that skeptics (who play a key role in science) can see if results are reproducible. Of course, there are no falsifiable experimental data associated with the global warming predictions of doom, so it doesn’t really stand as science as Karl Popper defined it. This is an important victory in the process of debunking the warmist scare.” (Thomas Lifson)

    “The only statement of fact ever edited out of a “The Way I See It” column involved Mann’s “hockey stick,” last November 27: “Penn State Professor Mann, who created the graph, had to retract it for inaccuracies.” While not a retraction, Mann refused to provide his data as a judge demanded—based on the age old premise that a plaintiff in a libel suit cannot withhold evidence showing whether the plaintiff did, in fact, commit a fraud as the defendant publicly stated (that Mann belonged in “the state pen”).

    Dr. Ball was awarded the dismissal and 8 years of court costs; Mann can appeal to higher courts and expect his spin on the dismissal to be parroted about the environmental left’s echo chamber. “But there is not a court in North America that will allow a libel case to proceed where the plaintiff refuses to produce the documents that may show whether the statements made about him were true or false.” (J. Hinderaker)

    harkin (d17996)

  32. I would say sarah jeong, Kristof, (who got hatfill arrested) Krugman, (who covered sheriff dupnik) bennett (who authored the telltale Tucson op ed, six years later) are the critter of undefined genus, also Thomas piersanti wright, the thinking man’s markos moulitsas (I know there is no such thing)

    narciso (d1f714)


    “Hey, at least he called me Dr. Karpf…” pointed out Karpf. The professor explained to Splinter why he called Stephens a bedbug in the first place, saying, “Bedbugs are a pain in the ass and hard to get rid of and everybody complains a lot about them, which is kind of like how my Twitter timeline always reacts to every Bret Stephens column.”

    Copying the provost, Karpf told Splinter, was “an offensive power move.”

    So it was Karpf’s way of bonding with his audience. Or with his trolls, perhaps.

    Sammy Finkelman (dec35d)

  34. I think Bret Stepehns tried to force an apology out of David Karpf. He didn’t get it.

    Sammy Finkelman (dec35d)

  35. If you want to see how a social media type gets fired, check out the story of Andy Ngo.
    An “everyday anti-fascist” (whatever that means) went undercover and infiltrated the Patriot Prayer group, revealing that Ngo was well aware of their plot to go to a Portland bar and crack some Antifa skulls, yet this poser had the gall to portray himself as some innocent victim.
    Quillette announced that Ngo is longer with the website, insisting that his involvement with Patriot Prayer and his employment status at Quillette are unrelated.

    Paul Montagu (a2342d)

  36. I am well aware that I am in the minority here, but I continue to think that the juvenile name calling and personal insults are like acid on the soul of our culture. I mean, it’s fine to disagree with a policy. But to call people names—really no different from when we were in middle or high school?

    Look at Ace. He constantly insults people he disagrees with, including calling them “fat” (when it is clear he is trying to lose weight). It’s just juvenile bullying.

    All the political parties love it. It brings them more clicks and dollars.

    But it’s childish and counterproductive.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  37. its about an agenda, simon, to destroy western civilization, where only raw power dictates, it doesn’t matter what you think or any dissident voice, it’s what the woke vanguard wants, and it’s always demands blood, from the jacobin terror to year zero,

    narciso (d1f714)

  38. david karpf, i’m just guessing is unconcerned that Israel would be carved and destroyed, that any semblance of western culture, remains why else would he regard stephens as so,

    narciso (d1f714)

  39. from his cv,

    Dr. Karpf is the award-winning author of The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy (2012, Oxford University Press) and Analytic Activism: Digital Listening and the New Political Strategy (2016, Oxford University Press). Both books discuss how digital media is transforming the work of political advocacy and activist organizations. His writing about digital media and politics has been published in a wide range of academic and journalistic outlets, including The Nation, Nonprofit Quarterly, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    narciso (d1f714)

  40. Subterranean Butthurt Blues

    Stephens comes lead foot
    Claimin’ he was mistook
    Said the man was smokin’ drugs
    Callin’ him a bedbug
    Got pissed, wrote his boss
    Asked he give the man the toss
    The man got wind of it
    Now Bret’s life is sh*t,
    Look out Bret
    The fvckin’ that you’ll get
    Walk on yer tiptoes
    Don’t write no prose
    Better stay away from those
    Who’ll put a match to yer clothes
    Keep a clean nose
    Strike a mean pose
    You don’t need an editor
    To know the New York Times blows

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  41. the dems are scheduling a seven hour? debate on climate change, with each candidate getting 40 minutes, that’s clearly an eigth amendment violation,

    narciso (d1f714)

  42. Wonder what Fredo thinks of bed bugs?

    mg (8cbc69)

  43. It’s about…


    DCSCA (797bc0)

  44. From the title of his 2012 book, it sounds like David Karpf is praising which was the previous name of mediamatters, which means he likes Clinton.

    Now Bret Stephens has a somewhat negative opinion of Bill Clinton: (and compares Trump defenders to defenders of Clinton)

    Over the years I’ve periodically been reminded of the many ways in which Bill Clinton’s presidency debased our civic culture….It was all vintage Bill: deploying minions to lie about illicit sex (and twist the meaning of words); abusing the powers of the presidency to trash the reputations of others; converting his character flaws into a national convulsion. Clinton did all this, and so has Trump. What the former pioneered, the latter has simply taken to the next level. ..

    …Thanks to the #MeToo movement, there’s been a long-delayed reconsideration among liberals about their past defense of (or relative indifference to) Clinton’s sexual predations. Monica Lewinsky and Juanita Broaddrick, once targets of left-wing snickering and contempt, have at last received a measure of respect as victims and survivors….

    Now perhaps David Korpf was one of the defenders of Clinton. (He must be to like

    Is he old enough? In 1999 David Karpf was National Director of the student-run arm of the Sierra Club.

    He certainly defended it later:

    The book is described by its publisher, at least in part as:

    The first detailed scholarly investigation of – how it operates, how it engages its member/supporters, and how these practices are changing political advocacy in general.

    Now suppose that book is a largely a pack of lies.

    David Karpf would not want Bret Stephens to get much of an audience even though he doesn’t secifically attack the book upon which he uilt his reputation.

    People might listen to Bret Stephens, who obviously thinks the defense of Bill Clinton was no good – and then someone might carefully examine that book/fact check it.

    If that is true, David Karpf would not like Bret Stephens.

    I think the issue he has with Bret Stephens is Bill Clinton, not Israel.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  45. Certain kinds of leftwingers don’t like Bret Stephens or some of what he writes, (and they are going way overboard even if his political analysis is wrong and delusional. Because somebody might listen to him.)

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  46., of course, was founded to defend Bill Clinton, and for no other purpose. I wonder waht David Karpf’s book says about that – and about Clinton.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  47. Burt Stephens is like the Koch Brothers. Just because they are gloablist, open border shills who hated Donald Trump and both were supporting Democrats in 2018, doesn’t mean the Left/liberals Love them. The left is NOT like the right. With the gullible Right all you need to do is toss them a bone once and a while, they’ll be your friend forever. With the Left, oppose them 20% of the time, and you’ll be labeled an enemy. David Koch support for legalized drugs, open borders, abortion, Amnesty, and Ballet, meant nothing to the Left. All they cared about was his opposition to CLimate change and support for Tax cuts. That alone earned him a “Glad he’s dead” from most of the Liberal/Left.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  48. Personally, I have ZERO respect for a man who can’t take a joke, can dish it out, but can’t take it, and dissembles and lies like Stephens. He was probably a sneak and a teacher’s pet in school, and bullied smaller kids while crying like a baby when a bigger kid challenged him. I believe anyone would defend him, whether you like Karpf or not.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  49. Last comment. Stephens is not a conservative. He’s not right-wing. He’s at the NYT for a reason. He’s their “Right wing”. IOW, he’s as conservative as a liberal/left can get and still be “respectable” and “Reasonable”. In the Russian Revolution or the Spanish Civil War, he would’ve been the “Moderate Liberals” who still supported the Bolsheviks & Loyalists when forced to choose.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  50. Apparently its about stephen unwilling to believe in sky dragons

    Narciso (942c04)

  51. I have no idea who Bret Stephens is but I have very strong opinions about him and will forcefully express my opinion as soon as I can think up more than 38 words to say on the matter.

    Jerryskids (702a61)

  52. narciso @35. the terrible thing is that someone will make an argument for such a detrimental policy.

    It’s based on:

    1) The notion that there is no difference between teachers.

    2) Ignring the fact that even though they are not there in proportional numbers, blacks and Hispanics benefot from thse programs, too.

    Cancelling them in many schools led to ahuge drop in the number of blacks and Hisoanics getting itno the high schools that give tests for admsission. (that and I suppose also that even the special programs probably don’t teach what they test for)

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  53. narciso @53. Is that the right link?

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  54. If someone really is for getting government grants for dubious purposes, people need to be with them 100%.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  55. Sorry, this one:

    Narciso (942c04)

  56. Mayor bane is slouchimg gotham toward snake plissken territory, qhat a message he is sending striving youth of all ethnicities.

    Narciso (942c04)

  57. The post misreads jd vance,

    Narciso (942c04)

  58. Brett Stephens is a conservative? More like he’s the version of Jennifer Rubin that pees standing up.

    Russ from Winterset (8e9b9e)

  59. Bret seems a mite Ticked off.

    mg (8cbc69)

  60. Stephens did go off half-cocked. He has a column in the NYT and he sent an email? Kid just has no clue about the power of the press or poison pen. He should have composed himself and then composed an article:

    Title: Those Who Can Do, And Those Who Can’t Tweet
    First line: In the proudest traditions of George Washington University and academic journalism generally, Associate Professor David Karpf pounced on a story about bedbugs at NYT, seizing it as an opportunity to send a gratuitous and frankly incomprehensible insult in my direction.
    Quote tweet:
    — Insert line about sending Karpf a bottle of good liquor in place of what he’s been drinking.
    — See if can pass line about the “Pillsbury Dough Boy’s older brother” past editor.

    nk (dbc370)

  61. Imagine if Karpf had said that about Ann Coulter. Or even Maureen Dowd. What they would have written.

    nk (dbc370)

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