Columnist Kevin Myers has apologised for comments made about Vanessa Feltz and Claudia Winkleman in a Sunday Times column which led to his sacking. The article, published in the Irish edition of the paper, suggested the BBC presenters were paid more than their female co-stars because they were Jewish.
Speaking on RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Myers took responsibility for his words, saying: “I am the author of that article. I am the author of my own misfortunes. I have many flaws … one of my flaws is to throw away, deal with major issues in throwaway lines… the throwaway line is often my pitfall, my downfall.
When asked by the host if he wanted to apologise to Feltz and Winkleman, Myers said: “I am very, very sorry that I should have so offended them and I do utter an apology, not for any reason other than out of genuine contrition for the hurt I caused them – but I did so, I uttered those words out of respect for the religion from which they come and for the religion that I still hold in high regard.
“Particularly the Irish members of that religion who have been so forthright in their defence of me.”
Myers denied being an anti-semite, claiming the Jewish people were the “most gifted people that has ever existed on this planet”.
“I am not an anti-Semite – I may have sounded anti-Semitic,” he added.
Myers also said it was right he was fired as he made “an error of judgement”. However, he appeared to defend his wider argument about men earning more than women, saying, “I am a critic of political feminism, I am not a misogynist”.
He continued: “Personally, I am in a very bad way, which is fine … I’m not sure if there is any redemption for me now which will give a lot of people satisfaction… It’s over for me professionally as far as I can see. I am really really sorry”.
You can listen to the full interview below.
The original column, published under the headline “Sorry ladies – equal pay has to be earned”, followed the revelation earlier this month that over two-thirds of BBC presenters earning over £150,000 per year are men.
Identifying that two of the best-paid female presenters, Winkleman and Feltz, were Jewish, Mr Myers wrote: “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 the marketplace.”
The article, published in the Irish edition of the newspaper and online, was taken down on Sunday following a formal complaint from the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism to press regulator IPSO.