Bret Stephens may have thought he would get the last word on the “bedbug” controversy, but it seems the New York Times columnist just stepped on another rake.
Stephens was the target of more mockery after a new column published Friday made a not very subtle reference to “bedbugs,” as he appeared to be comparing his critics to Nazis just days after he deactivated his Twitter account over an online quarrel with a college professor.
Stephens was roasted for taking offense to a joke by George Washington University professor, Dave Karpf, comparing him to a “bedbug” this week, and was accused of bullying Karpf when he fired off an email scolding him – and copying his boss.
NYT columnist’s dramatic exit from Twitter couldn’t have gone worse https://t.co/FzwzsEmvlN
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) August 27, 2019
Stephens defended his actions in an MSNBC appearance, claiming he never meant to get Karpf in trouble, but went on to complain that being called a “bedbug” is “dehumanizing and totally unacceptable.”
But instead of moving on, Stephens tried to make his point in another failed attempt to address “bedbugs.”
In his latest column, entitled “World War II and the Ingredients of Slaughter,” Stephens compared the “new technology” of radio in the 1930’s to Twitter today as he attempted to show the parallels between “the prewar era and the present.”
“Radio then, like Twitter today, was the technology of the id; a channel that could concentrate political fury at a time when there was plenty to go around,” he wrote in the op-ed which was topped with a photo of the Nazi Germany’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels.
— Mike Godwin (@sfmnemonic) August 31, 2019
But Stephens came under heavy fire for what seemed like a complete misinterpretation of a quote about Jews living in a Warsaw ghetto.
I didn’t think I could get more shocked by Bret Stephens misread and mishandling of this situation, but here we are. https://t.co/i5eUKEUhdr
— Emily M. Farris (@emayfarris) August 31, 2019
My jaw is on the floor pic.twitter.com/repnmcL2Ud
— David Klion? (@DavidKlion) August 30, 2019
Twitter users slammed Stephens for missing the fact that there literally was a bedbug epidemic in Warsaw.
Lol the quote Brett Stephens used to “prove” the term “bedbugs” has been used to describe Jews appears to, contextually, possibly be about literal bedbugs literally burning.
Where are the editors? https://t.co/pDkGbWva5A
— Wesley (@WesleyLowery) August 31, 2019
His op-ed even prompted a response from Karpf.
(2) I’m attending the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association right now. I have an actual job that doesn’t leave me with endless time to pursue pointless online vendettas.
So I’m going to try to take the night off from this. I’ll have more to say tomorrow.
— davekarpf (@davekarpf) August 31, 2019
To make matters worse, Twitter users were appalled to find that the New York Times columnist’s piece used Google search results for “Jews as bedbugs.”
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) August 30, 2019
Yup, it seems like Bret did the “jews as bedbugs” search himself. Following the lead of @nycsouthpaw I clicked the link in his column and got the same result. Here’s a screenshot. https://t.co/iHLaToZBnE pic.twitter.com/N9UREigLA9
— Adam Jentleson ?? (@AJentleson) August 31, 2019
Bret Stephens, NYT opinion columnist, in order to compare his being mocked on Twitter to the death of 12 million people in the Holocaust turns to googling “Jews as bedbugs” in Google Books.
That’s it. That’s the extent of his research for a column in the world’s largest paper. pic.twitter.com/6Da4mYEkLt
— Eoin Higgins (@EoinHiggins_) August 31, 2019
Readers also blasted the New York Times’ editors for failing to save Stephens from himself.
Shoutout to Bret Stephens’ editors who said “This is gold, Bret, would not change a word” and “No, no reason to do anything about the link” and are in a bar checking Twitter and laughing their asses off.
— Tabatha Southey (@TabathaSouthey) August 31, 2019
A scrupulous editor would have told Bret Stephens, “No. Just no. Get over it, Bret.”
Instead they actually went full Goebbels with it.
— Charles Johnson (@Green_Footballs) August 31, 2019
I guess @nytopinion reasons that no matter what stupid thing Bret Stephens does, any attention is good attention? Is that where they’ve set the bar?
— Matt Goldberg (@MattGoldberg) August 31, 2019
The Times responded to criticism over the link in Stephens’ story.
The link was added by editors before publication to give readers a reference.
We’ve updated the link.
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) August 31, 2019
But there seemed to be no saving Stephens from the ridicule – again.
The thing that’s made it worse is that he just keeps talking about it. But here he makes it worse by pretending this column just came to him randomly and not out of an impulse to rationalize his bad behavior (cc’d his complaint to @davekarpf ‘s provost, which is a dick move).
— Mike Godwin (@sfmnemonic) August 31, 2019
it was always absolutely obvious that he was going to do this but it is also somehow completely impossible to believe that he has done it
— flglmn (@flglmn) August 30, 2019
Bret Stephens’ skin is sub-atomic in thickness
— Brandon Finnigan (@B_M_Finnigan) August 31, 2019
Can’t wait for Bret Stephens’s next column: “People who laugh in my face are Stalin”
— Paul Musgrave (@profmusgrave) August 31, 2019
Poor, powerless civility champion Bret Stephens: An obscure prof tweets a joke about the bedbugs in the NYT newsroom being a metaphor for him (which got no retweets) so he wrote a column for a paper with 3mln readers comparing the prof to the Nazi overseers of the Warsaw Ghetto. pic.twitter.com/yn8B2mgGDE
— Dan Murphy (@bungdan) August 31, 2019
Shorter Bret Stephens: “Actually, when I tried to get that professor fired, what I was really doing was preventing WWIII. You’ll thank me later.” https://t.co/x7YgEYM3Cl
— Elizabeth Picciuto (@epicciuto) August 30, 2019
Who is the man’s editor? Does he have one? Also, who was like, this is a great piece, let’s get a giant picture of Goebbels on it and get it out the door ASAP?
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) August 31, 2019
I’ve had Twitter kick the shit out of me. It sucks. But when you’re lucky enough to have a great media gig, you accept that taking incoming heat is part of the job. You don’t narc on critics. You don’t use your privileged perch to compare yourself to Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto.
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) August 31, 2019
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