The Sunday Times of London has fired columnist Kevin Myers following outrage over an article he wrote for the publication’s Irish edition, suggesting BBC presenters Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz were well paid because they are Jewish.
Myers article, which had he framed as an attack on the push to close the pay gap at the BBC, was in response to an open letter from the BBC’s female stars which urged a quick end to gender pay disparities at the company following an annual BBC salary report.
“I note that two of the best-paid women presenters in the BBC — Claudia Winkelman and Vanessa Feltz, with whose, no doubt, sterling work I am tragically unacquainted — are Jewish. Good for them. Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price, which is the most useful measure there is of inveterate, lost-with-all-hands stupidity. I wonder, who are their agents? If they’re the same ones that negotiated the pay for the women on the lower scales, then maybe the latter have found their true value in their marketplace.”
He also wrote, prompting allegations of misogynism: “Only one woman is among the top 10 best-paid BBC presenters. Now, why is this? Is it because men are more charismatic performers? Because they work harder? Because they are more driven? Possibly a bit of each. The human resources department — what used to be called “personnel” until people come to be considered as a metabolising, respiring form of mineral ore — will probably tell you that men usually work harder, get sick less frequently and seldom get pregnant.”
The Rupert Murdoch-owned publication later pulled the article from its website, which it shares with the Times of London, and the editor of The Sunday Times and the editor of the paper’s Irish edition apologized for the column. The paper confirmed Sunday afternoon that Myers was fired. “We can confirm that Kevin Myers will not write again for The Sunday Time Ireland. A printed apology will appear in next week’s paper,” a spokesperson for the publication said in a statement to The New York Times.
“As the editor of the Ireland edition I take full responsibility for this error of judgment,” said Frank Fitzgibbon. “This newspaper abhors antisemitism and did not intend to cause offence to Jewish people.”
Daniel Harris, who writes for The Guardian and The New Statesman, tweeted: “Kevin Myers of the actual Times of London, complete with Nazi terminology. Reassuring to see we’ve moved on from the old antisemitic tropes.”
Lionel Barber, the editor of The Financial Times, also denounced the article on Twitter.
The BBC salary report showed that former Top Gear presenter Chris Evens took home more than £2 million ($2.6 million) while its highest-paid female star Winkleman earned anywhere between £450,000 ($586,790) and £499,999 ($651,941).