The Sunday Times has apologised for an “error of judgement” that led to the publication of a column which used anti-semitic tropes about Jews and argued women needed to “earn” equal pay.
The article by Kevin Myers about the BBC’s gender pay gap came from the Irish edition of the Sunday Times, but was published on the main website used by the UK based edition and its daily counterpart. It has since been removed and the publisher of both editions, News UK, is expected to launch an investigation into how the article made it through the newspaper’s editorial procedures.
In the article, Myers said that women were generally paid less because they were worth less, referencing two of the BBC’s better paid women, Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz, identifying them as Jewish and saying that “Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price”.
He also argued that the gender pay gap existed because “men usually work harder, get sick less frequently and seldom get pregnant”.
The column was swiftly condemned on Twitter.
— Henry Mance (@henrymance) July 30, 2017
Less concerned about Kevin Myers who seems like a garden variety racist jerrybag, & more about editors who were like ‘yah this checks out’
— Here Come Ms Honkus (@PRHRoy) July 30, 2017
The editors of the Sunday Times and its Irish edition issued an apology, saying the piece should never have been published. Martin Ivens, editor of the UK version, apologised for the “error of judgement that led to publication” and Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the Irish edition said he took full responsibility for the piece, adding: “It contained views that have caused considerable distress and upset to a number of people. … This newspaper abhors antisemitism and did not intend to cause offence to Jewish people.”
A later statement from said Myers would not write for the paper again and that Ivens had “apologised personally” to Winkleman, who writes for the Sunday Times, and Feltz for “unacceptable comments both to Jewish people and to women in the workplace”.
Myers has form for causing offence, writing in 2009 a piece for the Belfast Telegraph titled “There was no holocaust” and in 2008 a column for the Irish Independent headlined “Africa is giving nothing to anyone – apart from AIDS”. In a later clarification, he argued that the omission of the word “almost” from that headline changed its meaning.
Irish journalists are wearily familiar with his views.
And lo, it was on Sunday the 30th day of July 2017, in the year of our Lord, that the British discovered one Kevin Myers.
— Richard Chambers (@newschambers) July 30, 2017
Morning Britain! I see you’ve met Kevin Myers.
— Padraig Reidy (@mePadraigReidy) July 30, 2017
Kevin Myers has espoused terrible and offensive opinions for decades and yet he’s always been given a national platform
— ❄️Aoife Barry (@sweetoblivion26) July 30, 2017
The Irish edition of the Sunday Times operates separately from the UK versions of the Times and Sunday Times. However, the column’s appearance on the TheTimes.co.uk is likely to reflect on the brand as a whole. In the era of digital publication, there are already questions about how discrete online and geographic editions can claim to be. The Daily Mail recently argued, for example, that Katie Hopkins is a columnist on Mail Online, and her views should not be seen to reflect the print title. But as Buzzfeed editor Janine Gibson tweeted:
Things happening right now: urgent review of editorial autonomy or Irish edition of Sunday Times
— Janine Gibson (@janinegibson) July 30, 2017