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George Washington University invites NYT columnist to speak after viral feud with professor

George Washington University invites NYT columnist to speak after viral feud with professor
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A provost at George Washington University has invited New York Times columnist Bret Stephens to speak after a feud between the writer and a university professor went viral.

Provost Forrest Maltzman invited Stephens to speak about civil discourse in the digital age in a statement tweeted out by the university. 

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Maltzman also stood by associate professor Dave Karpf, who apparently upset Stephens when he called the columnist a "bedbug" on Twitter amid news of possible bedbugs in the Times's newsroom.

"Professor Karpf speaks for himself and does not take direction from me," the provost said. "Our commitment to academic freedom and free speech are integral to GW's mission."

 

Karpf told The Hill in a statement on Tuesday that he "would be happy to have a discussion with Bret Stephens about the internet, civil discourse, power and responsibility."

"I think it is unlikely he will accept the invitation," he added.

The invitation came after Stephens emailed Karpf and a university provost complaining about Karpf's tweet. The professor posted a screenshot of the email, which was widely circulated on Twitter.

"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."

He also invited Karpf to his home to meet his wife and children and then "call me 'bedbug' to my face."

Karpf wrote when posting the email that Stephens was "deeply offended that I called him a metaphorical bedbug."

"It got 9 likes and 0 retweets. I did not @ him. He does not follow me," he wrote of his initial tweet. 

The Hill has reached out to The New York Times for comment on the invitation.