NY Times's Bret Stephens deletes tweet calling ex-Obama aide 'an asshole'

NY Times's Bret Stephens deletes tweet calling ex-Obama aide 'an asshole'
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New York Times columnist Bret Stephens has deleted a tweet calling Tommy Vietor, who had worked for former President Obama, "an asshole," with the paper's spokesman saying the remark was "inappropriate."

Stephens, who jumped to the Times from The Wall Street Journal in April, tweeted at Vietor, a former National Security Council spokesman and special assistant to Obama, and asked him if, as indicated by a Kuwaiti report picked up by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Obama administration tipped off Iran about an Israeli plan to assassinate Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

"So did you alert Iran to the Israeli surveillance and potential attempt, @TVietor08? It sounds like you are confirming the story?" asked Stephens.

"I didn't work in the White House three years ago, but [former national security adviser] Ben [Rhodes] did and he already denied it. Regardless, you could've tried to confirm this without spreading the lie via Twitter. Good to see you're bringing the same intellectual rigor you apply to climate change to national security," Vietor replied.

"Good, because all my original tweet did was ask a question based on a story that had been picked up by Haaretz, a reputable paper. What we've established as fact was a) you think an Iranian terrorist mastermind is a ‘politician,’ and b) you're an asshole," Stephens shot back.

"We agree that this tweet was inappropriate and it has since been deleted by Bret, who regrets he sent it," a New York Times spokesperson told The Hill. 

The Daily Wire, a conservative online publication founded by former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro, also ran with the story, which prompted Vietor to refer to Shapiro as "a Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin BannonFormer Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 In next election against populists, centrist forces already making mistakes Chris Christie: Kushner’s dad committed 'one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes that I prosecuted’ MORE protege" and "a little shit."

Shapiro quickly retorted, calling the characterization regarding Bannon, who Shapiro has openly criticized since resigning from Breitbart in May 2016, "batshit insane."

Vietor is a co-host of "Pod Save America," along with former Obama staffers Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett and Dan Pfeiffer.

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The Times presented new social media guidelines in October for its reporters in a memo that includes a warning to "not express partisan opinions" or "promote political views," among other rules.

"In social media posts, our journalists must not express partisan opinions, promote political views, endorse candidates, make offensive comments or do anything else that undercuts The Times’s journalistic reputation,” reads the memo from executive editor Dean Baquet.

“Our journalists should be especially mindful of appearing to take sides on issues that The Times is seeking to cover objectively," he wrote.

"We consider all social media activity by our journalists to come under this policy. While you may think that your Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram, Snapchat or other social media accounts are private zones, separate from your role at The Times, in fact everything we post or 'like' online is to some degree public. And everything we do in public is likely to be associated with The Times," the memo warns.