A Sunday Times columnist recently blamed the BBC's women presenters for their unequal pay and embraced the racist trope that Jews secure higher wages due to their money-grubbing ways. Ironically, Kevin Myers criticises the work of women journalists in a column where he rants and raves, foregoes research, makes baseless claims and attacks straw men.
It's worth highlighting Myers' most outrageous comments to set the context for his more insidious falsehoods. He mulls whether male presenters are paid more because they're "more charismatic performers", "work harder" and are "more driven" than their woman colleagues, and decides he's probably right. He speculates HR departments "would probably tell you that men usually work harder, get sick less frequently and seldom get pregnant". And he adds that "men tend to be more ambitious: they have that greyback testosterone-powered, hierarchy-climbing id".
Unsatisfied with baseless, sweeping claims about women's inferiority to men, Myers veers into racism. After admitting he's never watched Claudia Winkleman or Vanessa Feltz on TV, he attributes their large salaries to their Jewish heritage. Jews, he notes, "are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price."
Those frank, bigoted comments have hogged the headlines, but Myers makes other claims that crumble under scrutiny. He repeatedly attempts to ridicule and dismiss women's calls for equality by conflating a gender pay gap with an occupational pay gap. "Naturally, the female presenters demanding 'equality' with the top-paid men are not demanding the same for the Jamaican waitress in the canteen," he writes. Unable to craft a genuine argument, he paints them as hypocrites for wanting to be paid as much as their male colleagues, but not demanding the same for "canteen, camera and cleaning staff". He turns to the same fallacy to attack women columnists calling for equal pay; they "earn more for their columns than a cleaning lady or checkout girl will ever do in a week."
Myers continually falls headfirst into hypocrisy and farce. He mocks women commentators for writing "angrily - the only mood many of them know", in a column that rails against "PC (political correctness) traitors", "depraved and self-regarding metropolitan elites" and the "preposterously large salaries" of BBC stars. He argues men receive higher pay because they're more aggressive and ambitious, but criticises women for demanding fairer wages. And immediately after arguing women shouldn't expect special favours, he points out the dearth of women mathematicians, billionaires and chess grandmasters. Rather than contemplating whether sexism in education, the workplace and society might be holding women back, he blames their lack of "singular drive, ruthless logic and instant, arctic-cold arithmetic". Myers concludes by explaining the high salary of one woman radio host: her agent must have been a man, or acted like one.
It's gobsmacking that a sexist, racist, thoughtless rant - the stuff of right-wing forums - was given the green light. The Sunday Times has removed Myers' column from its website, apologised for publishing it, fired Myers and launched a review of its editing process. Media outlets play a vital role in promoting Informed debate and commentary; they shouldn't be pushing ignorant beliefs and bigotry into the public discourse.