Sunday Times pulls anti-Semitic article targeting female BBC hosts

Editor apologizes for piece that said ‘Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price’

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

BBC star Vanessa Feltz (YouTube screenshot)
BBC star Vanessa Feltz (YouTube screenshot)

After an outcry, the Sunday Times newspaper apologized and removed an article that singled out Jewish BBC television hosts as knowing how to negotiate high salaries because of their heritage.

The piece, which focused on inequalities of salary between top-grossing male and female stars, was taken off the British newspaper’s website following an online backlash.

In the offending article, entitled “Sorry ladies — equal pay has to be earned,” writer Kevin Myers noted “that two of the best-paid women presenters in the BBC — Claudia Winkelman and Vanessa Feltz, with whose, no doubt, sterling work I am tragically unacquainted — 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. 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.”

Almost immediately after it was published, calls were made for it to be removed.

Labour Party lawmaker Luciana Berger, herself Jewish, called the article “appalling.”

Late Sunday morning, Martin Ivens, editor of The Sunday Times, said the comments were “unacceptable and should not have been published.”

Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the The Sunday Times Ireland, apologized and took full responsibility for “this error of judgement.”

He added, “This newspaper abhors anti-Semitism and did not intend to cause offence to Jewish people.”

Myers in the past has penned an article insisting there was no Holocaust, in which he tried to make a point about European laws against Holocaust denial.

The newest offending article had been based on the BBC’s July 19 publication of the salaries of its highest paid stars.

In the Radio 2 category, five men took the top slots. Weekday Breakfast Show host Chris Evans took top position, with a salary in the £2,200,000 – £2,249,999 (NIS 10.3-10.5 million) bracket.

In sixth position came the female broadcaster Vanessa Feltz, whose earnings fall into the £350,000 – £399,999 (NIS 1.6-1.9 million) category.

BBC star Claudia Winkleman (Youtube screenshot)
BBC star Claudia Winkleman (YouTube screenshot)

Claudia Winkleman appeared top in the list of stars associated with “Strictly Come Dancing,” a television dance contest, with a salary in the £450,000 – £499,999 (NIS 2.1-2.3 million) bracket.

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