(JTA) – The Irish journalist fired for writing what critics called an anti-Semitic newspaper column apologized and acknowledged that he deserved to be sacked.
But Kevin Myers said in an interview with an Irish radio station Friday that he was not anti-Semitic.
“It was stupid of me, the encapsulation of such a complex issue in a single sentence,” Myers said, referring to a line in a July 30 column that played on the stereotype of Jews as hard bargainers. “One of my flaws is to deal with major issues with throwaway lines.”
In his column for the Irish edition of London’s Sunday Times, Myers had noted that two of the BBC’s best-paid female presenters, Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz, 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,” Myers wrote.
Critics said the column, which was critical of the notion that men and women deserved equal pay, was both anti-Semitic and misogynistic. Myers was fired and the newspaper apologized.
In his first comments on the incident, Myers told RTE Radio One that at least “five or six” other Sunday Times employees would have overseen the column before it went to print.
“A number of people nodded on duty and let something through that shouldn’t have gone through,” he said.
However, Myers called himself the “author of his own misfortune” and took responsibility.
“I am very very sorry to them, I really mean it, I’m not rescuing anything as far as I can see, it’s over for me,” he said, referring to the two BBC broadcasters mentioned in his column. “I am issuing an apology for no other reason than contrition of the hurt I have caused them. I said those words out of respect for their religion.”
Feltz also commented on the incident during an interview on BBC’s Radio London, saying the Myers column highlighted “every vile stereotype about what Jewish people have ever been deemed to be by racists.” She also asked how something “so blatantly racist” was allowed to appear in the newspaper.
Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the Sunday Times Ireland, said the column “contained views that have caused considerable distress and upset to a number of people,” and that Myers will “not write again for the Sunday Times Ireland,” according to The Independent.
Fitzgibbon said he took “full responsibility” and added, “This newspaper abhors anti-Semitism and did not intend to cause offence to Jewish people.”