Conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens announced Tuesday that he had deactivated his Twitter account after being called a "bedbug" by a George Washington University professor.
"Time to do what I long ago announced to do. Twitter is a sewer. It brings out the worst in humanity, ”Stephens wrote. “I sincerely apologize for any part played in making it worse, and anyone would ever hurt. Thanks to all of my followers, but deactivating this account. ”
The deactivation comes after Stephens complained in an email to Professor David Karpf and his employer at George Washington that the educator called him a bedbug in a tweet. The reference follows reports on Monday that the Times had an outbreak of bedbugs in its midtown Manhattan newsroom.
"Someone just pointed out a tweet you wrote about me, calling me a 'bedbug,'" Stephens wrote. "I'm often amazed about things supposedly decent people are prepared to say about other people ̵
The Times columnist went on to invite Karpf to his home, meet his wife and children, and then "call me 'bedbug' to my face," he continued.
"That would take some genuine courage and intellectual integrity on your part," Stephens told the professor . "I promise to be courteous no matter what you have to say. Maybe it will make you feel better about yourself."
Karpf shared the email from Stephens, who quickly went viral.
"It got 9 likes and 0 retweets. I did not @ him. He does not follow me, "Karpf remarked about the email. "He is deeply offended that I called him a metaphorical bedbug."
Alright fine … here is the email: pic.twitter.com/A4E5I6CoB6
– davekarpf (@davekarpf) August 27, 2019
Karpf's tweet sharing the Stephens email got more than 8,000 retweets and more than 52,000 likes.
Stephens – who is also an MSNBC contributor – later noted that Karpf's offer to visit his home was a "standing invitation" and that the professor could also bring his spouse.