Howie Kurtz on Bret Stephens 'bedbug' fiasco: 'Amazingly thin-skinned reaction'

Howard Kurtz: The only real news here is the New York Times has bedbugs on every floor

‘MediaBuzz’ host Howard Kurtz reacts to Bret Stephens blowing up over being called a ‘bedbug.’

Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz criticized New York Times columnist Bret Stephens Wednesday for an "amazingly thin-skinned reaction" to a university professor calling him a "bedbug" on Twitter.

The "MediaBuzz" host told Sandra Smith on "America's Newsroom" that Stephens ended up amplifying an obscure Twitter insult, leaving the social media platform entirely and calling out George Washington University associate professor Dave Karpf in what seemed like an attempt to get him fired.

"This was an amazingly thin-skinned reaction on the part of Bret Stephens," he said. "This had zero re-retweets, nobody would have heard of this thing, except for the letter he sent to the professor and the professor's boss. … Copying the guy's boss does look like an attempt to get him in trouble, or worse, at work. … Given his prominence, it looks like using an elephant gun to attack a flea and that's why this has blown up."

Smith marveled at the absurdity of the story, which led to universal mockery of Stephens from across the political spectrum, including President Trump and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.


Stephens stood by his much-criticized reaction in an MSNBC interview Tuesday, pointing to how insect comparisons have been used by totalitarian regimes.

"There is a bad history of being analogized to insects that goes back to a lot of totalitarian regimes," Stephens said.

The saga started after news surfaced that the Times' offices were infested with bedbugs. Karpf joked that "the bedbugs are a metaphor. The bedbugs are Bret Stephens."

Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

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