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Sunday, July 30, 2017

It shouldn't take an uproar

by digby

Via the NYT:

The Sunday Times of London has fired the writer of an op-ed article denouncing the campaign by women of the British Broadcasting Corporation for equal pay after the column sparked widespread accusations that it was anti-Semitic and misogynistic.

The move came after the article, by Kevin Myers, an Irish journalist with a record of provocative right-wing statements, was pulled from its website and the editor of The Sunday Times and the editor of the paper’s Irish edition apologized for the column.

Framing his piece as an attack on the push to close the pay gap at the BBC, Mr. Myers wrote:

“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.”

Elsewhere he wrote:

“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 column, which had been commissioned for the print version of the outlet’s Irish edition, also attacked “the PC traitors who run BBC News and current affairs, which have stifled and corrupted all useful debate on national identity, immigration and race, thereby doing irreversible damage to British society.”

The article was widely condemned on social media. One person wrote: “This kind of hateful nonsense should never make it past an editor. Myers has been writing drivel for a long time. Stop giving him a platform.”

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.”

An Irish lawyer, Aoife Carroll, wrote: “I’d love to know how many editors that article got through before being published. I’ll take a wild guess that none were women.”

Lionel Barber, the editor of The Financial Times, also denounced the article on Twitter.

By midmorning local time, the article had been removed from the website, which The Sunday Times shares with The Times of London, both part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

Shortly afterward, Martin Ivens, the editor of The Sunday Times, apologized on Twitter:

“The comments in a column by Kevin Myers in today’s Irish edition of The Sunday Times were unacceptable and should not have been published. It has been taken down, and we sincerely apologize both for the remarks and the error of judgment that led to publication.”

A separate statement from Frank Fitzgibbon, the editor of the paper’s Irish edition in Dublin, said in part:

“As the editor of the Ireland edition I take full responsibility for this error of judgment. This newspaper abhors anti-Semitism and did not intend to cause offense to Jewish people.”

That statement, however, was criticized for not addressing what many saw as Mr. Myers’s misogyny.

Calls to Mr. Myers’s cellphone and home numbers went unanswered on Sunday. He also did not immediately respond to a voice mail message and email.

On Sunday afternoon, the paper confirmed that Mr. Myers was let go. A spokesperson said: “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.

“The Sunday Times editor Martin Ivens has also apologized personally to Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz for these unacceptable comments both to Jewish people and to women in the workplace.”

More at the link.

It's good they fired him. But the fact that it took an uproar for them to see what was wrong with it tells you everything you need to know about how fighting "political correctness" is really just a useful excuse for unabashed bigotry and prejudice.