New York Times columnist Bret Stephens quits Twitter after being called a 'bedbug'

Conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens announced Tuesday that he deactivated his Twitter account after being called a "bedbug" by a George Washington University professor.

“Time to do what I long ago promised to do. Twitter is a sewer. It brings out the worst in humanity,” Stephens wrote. “I sincerely apologize for any part I’ve played in making it worse, and to anyone I’ve ever hurt. Thanks to all of my followers, but I’m deactivating this account.”

The deactivation comes after Stephens complained in an email to professor David Karpf and the provost of George Washington University 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.

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"Someone just pointed out a tweet you wrote about me, calling me a 'bedbug,'" Stephens wrote. "I'm often amazed about the things supposedly decent people are prepared to say about other people — people they've never met — on Twitter. I think you've set a new standard."

The Times columnist then invited Karpf to come 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, which 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."

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 the offer to Karpf to visit his home was a "standing invitation" and that the professor could also bring his spouse.

Read more from The Hill: 

NYT's Stephens roasted for response to bedbug crack: 'Dish it out but can't take it'