An Irish journalist apologized on Tuesday after being fired for penning a column perceived as anti-Semitic and sexist, saying his career is over now.
The Sunday Times fired Kevin Myers after he suggested that female BBC presenters Vanessa Feltz and Claudia Winkleman were successful in negotiating higher salaries because they are Jewish.
In the offending column, entitled “Sorry ladies — equal pay has to be earned,” Myers wrote: “Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price.”
Myers told Ireland’s RTE news that he offered Felt and Winkleman a sincere apology.
“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 uttered those words out of respect for the religion from which they come,” Myers said.
“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 defense of me generally,” he added.
On Monday, the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland said that branding Myers an anti-Semite or Holocaust-denier was “an absolute distortion of the facts.”
“More than any other Irish journalist, he has written columns about details of the Holocaust over the last three decades that would not otherwise have been known by a substantial Irish audience,” Council chairman Maurice Cohen said in a statement, according to The Irish Times.
Cohen insisted that Myers was not racist against Jews, but in his “curmudgeonly, cranky, idiosyncratic style” had “inadvertently stumbled into an anti-Semitic trope.”
Myers in the past penned an article in the Irish Independent saying the Holocaust did not happen to protest European laws against Holocaust denial. That article was removed from the paper’s website Monday after Myers came under fire for the Sunday Times piece.
In the apology, Myers said that it was a mistake to have used religion in the latest article.
“I foolishly referred to their religion as being a motivator. Actually there is a good article to be had about that but it’s not to be done in a throwaway line that will not be understood,” he said. “It was stupid of me, the encapsulation of such a complex issue in a single sentence… one of my flaws is to deal with major issues with throwaway lines.”
However, he denied that the article was motivated by anti-Semitism, and claimed to be an admirer of the Jewish people.
“My Jewish audience will understand that I am a great admirer of Jewish people, I think they are the most gifted people who have ever existed on this planet and civilisation owes an enormous debt to them.”
Myers took full responsibility for the article, admitting that he would probably never be able to work again in journalism.
He said that even though five or six others must have read the article before it was published, he didn’t want anyone else to lose their job over the incident.
An editor for the Irish edition of the Sunday Times apologized for the article on Sunday, saying he took full responsibility for its publication.