Kevin Myers has apologised for the anti-semitic remark that saw him sacked as a columnist from the Irish edition of the Sunday Times.
“I really mean this because I am not rescuing anything — it is over for me professionally as far as I can see — I am very, very sorry,” he said.
The column, with the headline ‘Sorry, ladies — equal pay has to be earned’, focused on the fallout from the BBC pay controversy and the revelation that two-thirds of its stars earning more than £150,000 (€168,000) are male.
Mr Myers noted that two of the BBC’s top earning females — Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz — are Jewish, adding that “Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price”.
On Monday, Ms Feltz hit out at the comments, describing them as “blatant racism”.
“I couldn’t believe such a thing had been printed,” she told BBC Radio. “It is absolutely gratuitous, not cleverly done, it’s blatant racism. When you see it like that it’s very horrifying.”
Mr Myers yesterday appeared on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1 to apologise for the remark.
“I do utter an apology, not for any reason other than out of genuine contrition for the hurt I had caused them,” said Mr Myers. “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 regard, in high regard, particularly the Irish members of that religion who have been so forthright in their defence of me generally.”
He declined to discuss the editorial process that led to the article’s publication, or to say who would have read the piece before it went to print.
“I am the author of that article, I am the author of my own misfortunes, I am the master of my soul, and I must answer for what I’ve done. I must do nothing that will bring ruin or unhappiness to other people,” he said.
“I have many flaws. One of my flaws is to deal with major issues in throwaway lines, and I did that with regard to the two women whom I identified within the BBC hierarchy who were particularly well rewarded.”
Mr Myers denied that he was anti-semitic, claiming the Jewish people were the “most gifted people that have ever existed on this planet”.
“I know that I am not anti-Semitic — I might have sounded anti-Semitic,” he said.
He also rejected suggestions he was misogynistic.
“It’s not misogynistic, no it’s not misogynistic,” he said of the article. “I am a critic of political feminism. I am not a misogynist.
“It hasn’t routinely been used about me but it’s a simple way of labelling somebody and that means you don’t have to listen to what they’re saying.”
However, Mr Myers said he “doesn’t believe in equality”.
“I do believe that men and women behave very differently and men are driven by ambition and by urges that women don’t have, generally speaking,” he said.
Mr Myers said he learned of his sacking “after everybody else had heard” on the BBC News on Sunday morning, but he was not told until that afternoon.
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