Saturday 23 September 2017

Editor stays silent over the controversial sacking of writer Myers

Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the ‘Sunday Times Ireland’
Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the ‘Sunday Times Ireland’
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

The editor of the Irish edition of 'The Sunday Times' has remained silent despite the ongoing controversy surrounding the newspaper's sacking of outspoken columnist Kevin Myers.

Frank Fitzgibbon issued a barrage of more than a dozen tweets on various subjects last Saturday in his capacity as editor.

But aside from making a statement in which he apologised and took "full responsibility for this error of judgment" hours after the furore over the now-infamous column erupted on Sunday, he has remained silent - both on Twitter and in the public domain.

Neither Mr Fitzgibbon nor other senior editorial executives at the newspaper have responded to requests from the Irish Independent for a comment on the controversy over what was initially an opinion piece on the gender pay gap in broadcasting here and in the UK.

However, it's understood that senior officials from News UK, which publishes both the Irish and UK editions of 'The Sunday Times', have launched an internal inquiry this week into how the column was published.

It comes after more than 50 complaints have been made to the Office of the Press Ombudsman over the piece, which Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and others have branded "anti-Semitic and misogynistic".

In the piece, Mr Myers referred to the Jewish faith of high-earning BBC presenters Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz, stating Jews are "not generally known for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest-possible price," which both women said they found deeply offensive.

Mr Myers broke his silence on Tuesday on RTE Radio and "unconditionally" apologised to the presenters during an interview with the BBC on Wednesday. He said he was not an anti-Semite and had intended the reference as a compliment "for how Jewish people behave, to maximise your potential because nobody else will do it for you".

Meanwhile, Seth Barrett Tillman, a law lecturer at NUI Maynooth who is Jewish, told RTÉ Radio's Sean O'Rourke yesterday that he personally believed that Mr Myers had been "railroaded", adding he didn't believe the piece was anti-Semitic nor was it "intended to be hurtful".

"This is a man who has been crushed. It's merciless and it's wrong," he said of Mr Myers being subsequently dismissed.

"I think it's utterly disgraceful. I think that if he doesn't get his job back he will be remembered as the Irish Dreyfus." Alfred Dreyfus was a French Jew who was wrongly accused and convicted of treason in the 19th century.

Mr Tillman added in later correspondence: "Dreyfus was a victim of real anti-Semitism. Myers is a victim of purported anti-anti-Semitism, faux outrage, virtue signalling, and political correctness on stilts. This social media mob will kill this man, and that senior politicians have joined this mob passes the bounds of decency. Those who sit back and allow this to happen will one day see the McCarthyist mob turned on them."

Irish Independent

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