UK's Sunday Times pulls 'antisemitic' column after criticism

Kevin Myers wonders if two BBC presenters were paid better due to being Jewish

July 30, 2017 15:02
2 minute read.
A man buys a Sunday newspaper at a news stand in London July 17, 2011.

A man buys a Sunday newspaper at a news stand in London July 17, 2011.. (photo credit: REUTERS/SUZANNE PLUNKETT)

The Sunday Times, one of the largest-selling British newspapers, pulled an opinion column on Sunday and fired the writer after he was accused of antisemitism.

The column, written by Irish journalist Kevin Myers, was titled “Sorry, ladies – equal pay has to be earned.” It dealt with the ongoing public battle over salaries for women at the BBC. It was originally published online and in the Irish print edition of the weekly paper.

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“I note that two of the bestpaid women presenters in the BBC – Claudia Winkelman and Vanessa Feltz... are Jewish,” Myers wrote. “Good for them. Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price.”

After a horrified backlash from many readers, the newspaper deleted the column from the site and issued an apology. Later on Sunday, a spokesperson for the Times confirmed that Myers had been fired.

“We can confirm that Kevin Myers will not write again for the Sunday Times Ireland. A printed apology will appear in next week’s paper.”

Martin Ivens, editor of the newspaper, said the comments “were unacceptable and should not have been published. It has been taken down and we sincerely apologize for the remarks and the error of judgment that led to publication.”

Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the Ireland edition, echoed Ivens.

“I apologize unreservedly for the offence caused by comments in a column by Kevin Myers and published today in the Ireland edition of the Sunday Times,” he said.

“It contained views that have caused considerable distress and upset to a number of people... I take full responsibility for this error of judgment.

This newspaper abhors antisemitism and did not intend to cause offence to Jewish people.”

The editors did not address if they were apologizing merely for the antisemitic content or also the rampant sexism.

Myers speculated in the piece that men were likely paid more because they are harder working, more driven and “more charismatic performers.”

UK Media Watch, a division of CAMERA, tweeted that it found the Times to be “generally good on issues of antisemitism.

This one horrendous article is quite atypical.”

Jewish Leadership Council CEO Simon Johnson said the article was “appalling.”

“We are pleased that the Sunday Times has removed the story and issued an apology,” he said. “We hope that the Sunday Times will ensure that this type of incident does not happen again.”

Guardian columnist Marina Hyde said she was “amazed this disgrace made it into the paper. But instructive that it did.” Financial Times editor Lionel Barber marveled at the “undiluted antisemitism and misogyny in one paragraph.”

Aiofe Barry, a news editor at The Journal in Ireland, tweeted that Meyers “has espoused terrible and offensive opinions for decades and yet he’s always been given a national platform.”

Indeed, this is far from Myer’s first foray into offensive – and antisemitic – viewpoints.

In 2009 he published a column in The Independent entitled “There was no Holocaust.”

In it, he claimed that six million Jews were not killed by the Nazis and that this is an “irrefutable truth.”

That article remained online for more than eight years until The Independent finally pulled it on Sunday, noting that it “does not comply with our editorial ethos.”

And in 2008, he wrote a piece in The Irish Independent – also since deleted – called “Africa is giving nothing to anyone – apart from AIDS.”

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