The mysteries of the newspaper business

There’s a bit of an upset going on over at the BBC — salaries were revealed, and it was discovered that only 1 of the top 10 highest paid news presenters was a woman. This is evidence of unfair compensation and bias within the organization, which is awful enough…but then one Kevin Myers (no relation, I swear) threw gasoline — excuse me, petrol — on the smoldering fires of resentment with a remarkable op-ed in the Sunday Times. It has to be seen to be believed, but unfortunately it was quickly yanked. But not quickly enough.

The row over the gender pay gap within the BBC is the final proof — though none was needed — that the organization is both utterly unreal and irredeemably corrupt.

It’s a baffling beginning, but as you dig a little deeper, it will dawn on you that he’s not calling the BBC corrupt because they have discriminatory salary practices, oh no. He’s calling the BBC corrupt because people are allowed to complain about discriminatory salary practices.

Equally unreal has been the tiresome monotone consensus of the commentariat, all wailing and shrieking as one about how hard done by are the women of the BBC.

I tried finding the wailing and shrieking, but the commentariat are all British. As an American, my standards of what constitutes wailing and shrieking are significantly more elevated.

But as you sink deeper into the muck, it gets wilder and nastier. Much nastier. Anti-semitically nasty.

I note that two of the best-paid women presenters in the BBC – Claudia Winkleman 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?”

Oh. Jews are grasping and greedy, which is how those two women came to be better paid.

How did this get past the editors? Do they have editors? If they do, are they all bigots who failed to notice the racism here?

They are also misogynists, because this bit also swooshed right over their heads.

Only one woman is among the top 10 best-paid BBC presenters. Now, why is this? Is it because men are more charismatic performers? Because they work harder? Because they are more driven? Possibly a bit of each. The human resources department — what used to be called “personnel” until people came to be considered as a metaoblising, respiring form of mineral ore — will probably tell you that men usually work harder, get sick less frequently and seldom get pregnant.

It’s also not as if this was a surprise. It turns out this Kevin Myers jerk has a reputation.

Myers has form for causing offence, writing in 2009 a piece for the Belfast Telegraph titled “There was no holocaust” and in 2008 a column for the Irish Independent headlined “Africa is giving nothing to anyone – apart from AIDS”.

So how does he continue to get published? Shouldn’t the editors all have great big signs on their desks, saying “BURN ALL SUBMISSIONS FROM KEVIN MYERS”?

If there are any editors, that is. Or maybe Rupert Murdoch (it’s his paper, naturally) loves his work and has given him carte blanche.


  1. benedic says

    “How did this get past the editors? Do they have editors?”
    It is a paper owned by Rupert Murdoch . The Myers in question is also a holocaust denier just another employee.

  2. mudpuddles says

    Myers is what passes in Ireland for an intellectual – a mouthy, pig-ignorant far-right troll who was doing Trump before Trump. He has been writing opinion pieces for Irish newspapers, including at one time the so-called paper of record the Irish Times, for decades. This latest screed in the Sunday Times is relatively mild compared to much of his previous nonsense. He is in a wee bit of bother this time because the piece was for the Irish edition of a British paper. But a huge amount of Irish people love him and agree with him, and he helps to sell papers. It’s quite sad, but this little green island is just chock full of assholes.

  3. cartomancer says

    It must be borne in mind that the BBC has been a target of hate from the Murdoch press ever since there was a Murdoch press. It represents something they cannot abide – a not-for-profit model of media production, paid for by a public subsidy, with a legal obligation to represent the entire British population and aim for some kind of objectivity in its reporting. It does not run advertising to pay for its upkeep, so it is not beholden to the corporate sector and its motives, and it is far more accountable to the elected government for its actions than any private media outlet.

    Of course, it struggles with all those things. It often fails. But at least it tries and fails. At least it has to try. The right-wing corporate press hates the fact that we have a better model in front of our eyes, and the fact we trust and admire the BBC far more than we have ever trusted and admired them.

    One might note that the BBC is required to reveal the salaries of its top earners by law. The Times is not.

  4. anbheal says

    It’s worth noting that his writing is absolutely atrocious. He throws in constant unnecessary blather, of the “as it were” and “so to speak” genre, uses bloviated three dollar words when a nice Anglo-Saxon single syllable option would be clearer, and lapses into the awful Rolling Stone music critic habit of constructing lazy-person-hyphenated-adjectival-descriptions-that-take-up-two-whole-lines-of-the-page-rather-than-thinking-about-an-adjective-that-already-exists-for-their-prose. Such as “bad”.

  5. emergence says

    First, how in the flying tap-dancing fuck does it count as corruption for employees to be able to file complaints about their treatment? That’s pretty close to the exact opposite of corruption.

    So flat out antisemitism is socially acceptable in Ireland? Is it like this in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, or just one or the other?

  6. says

    Yeah, I hit shrieking as one about how hard done by are the women, especially the how hard done by are part, and it took me a moment to untangle the grammar.

  7. emergence says

    @Gregory in Seattle

    Nice to know a bigoted fuckwit’s finally facing some consequences for their bullshit.

    Also, aside from the antisemitism, notice how his argument is the exact same strain of bullshit that’s brought up all the time; unfounded claims that women are paid less because they work less hard, get sick more often, or get pregnant. I’ve yet to see any actual evidence that women are less motivated workers than men, or that they’re more prone to health problems.

    The pregnancy thing is bullshit for several reasons, not the least of which is that a woman is unlikely to be pregnant more than a handful of times in her life. In fact, many women are only pregnant once, or never at all. Somehow a few weeks of maternity leave out of all the years a woman has worked at a company justifies paying her signfcantly less than her male coworkers. Besides, I think fathers should have time off to take care of their newborns too. Maybe this whole issue could be avoided if the playing field was leveled a bit.

  8. PDX_Greg says

    @Gregory in Seattle

    Awesome! Although sadly only because of his blatant antisemitism and not because of his blatant sexism.

  9. KG says

    Kevin Myers has been fired. – Gregory in Seattle@7

    But I expect he will be able to make a good living whining about how unfair it all is.

    This is somewhat OT, but amid the entirely justified anger first at the gender disparity in pay revealed at the BBC, and then at Kevin Myers’ disgusting bigotry, the question of whether anyone should be paid the sums concerned has gone largely unexplored – possibly because prominent mediapersons would rather their own “compensation” not be looked into too closely. The top BBC salary goes to a radio and TV presented and producer, Chris Evans – around £2.2 million. How Evans justifies his insensate greed to himself, I don’t know. Another near the top is John Humphreys – around £600,000, IIRC – who admits he’s not objectively worth it, but shrugs this off with the remark that we live in a market economy. His chief employment is as a presenter and interviewer on the main BBC Radio morning news programme, where he cross-examines politicians, economists and activists among others. How can a man earning that sort of sum possibly understand how most people in Britain live, or take an unbiased view when it comes to – say – the question of a wealth tax, raised by Jeremy Corbyn in the recent election campaign? WTF do you do with £600,000 a year, let alone £2.2 million? I guess the answer is, you buy up assets which will make you even richer through interest and capital appreciation. Wealth inequality is increasing even faster than income inequality, as shown in Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century.

  10. mudpuddles says

    @ emergence, #5
    Hi there. You might say it’s not so much ‘accepted’, as ‘tolerated’, in that uniquely Irish way: ‘Jaysus! You can’t be saying that! Christ, that’s an awful thing to say! Oh look, it’s 7pm. Want to go for a pint? Just don’t say that stuff out loud in the pub. How’s the kids?’ Myers wrote a piece denying the holocaust for the Irish Independent (one of the main national broadsheets in Ireland, though routinely shit and backward on just about every topic) in 2009, which met with next to no outcry here, and which could be read on the paper’s website until this morning, 8 years later, when the editors realised they might get a bit of backlash once people in other countries who are not assholes heard about it. Anti-semitism is less of an issue here than racism aimed at other groups (people of colour, Muslims, Irish travellers, Romani groups, etc), but alt-right effluent increasingly finds a warm embrace over here.

  11. mudpuddles says

    @ emergence
    Sorry I forgot to add: I can’t Really speak for the North. I lived there for a few years and it has its own horrendous mess of bigotry, aimed often at Asians and Eastern Europeans as well as the well-known internal sectarian horseshit (a Chinese friend of mine and his wife who worked there with me were assaulted three times before they had enough and left for London), but I never really noticed anti-semitism. But we’re talking about a region of the UK where the overwhelming majority voted for vile extremists (the top two parties in the North are both riddled with ugliness) in the recent parliamentary election.

  12. EigenSprocketUK says

    As others pointed out already: this article was OK’d by the editors and so was the sub-ed’s hyperbolic headline. None thought that it was anything other than reasonable contribution to civilised discourse. But that’s no surprise based on what you already know about Murdoch’s organisations..

  13. DanDare says

    So the editor “takes full resppnsibility” but still has a job? Not much on this responsibility thing are they.

  14. VolcanoMan says

    I am bemused that at least a handful of people working at the paper in question thought that this article was both acceptable period, and likely to be accepted as reasonable journalism by the paper’s audience (and whoever else heard about it). Then again, if this shit-disturbing misanthrope really had an article on a national newspaper’s website denying the Holocaust garner zero concerted pushback for EIGHT years, maybe I shouldn’t be.

    Wow though; usually arseholes like this have to couch their bigotry in dog-whistles and protestations that they’re not really saying what they are, in fact, actually saying. It is astonishing that this guy thought that he could write an article like that and still have a job in a few days. And perhaps he would have been right if he had written it for the Irish Independent.

  15. says

    The Times of London is against the BBC at present because the Times of London is owned by News Corporation, who are owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns SkyTV in the UK. Mr Murdoch objects to public broadcasters largely because they block his potential monopoly control over information sources, and keep insisting on archaic luxuries such as news reporting based on verifiable facts, rather than whichever paranoid right-wing fantasy is getting the most eyeballs this week. All of which is to say: this is entirely understandable if you just consider the Murdoch Media perspective on public broadcasting, which is: Mr Murdoch considers his taxes poorly spent on producing competition to his own papers.

    (The fact he and his empire pay the bare minimum of allowable tax in any jurisdiction, and have a bevy of accountants working flat out year round to try and figure out new and interesting ways of getting around the requirements to pay any tax at all is beside the point. He still objects to even a minuscule percentage of the small amount he does pay going on things he doesn’t approve of. Such as welfare payments; public education; public health systems; corporate pork-barrelling paid to anyone other than News Corporation; and, of course, public broadcasting).

  16. mostlymarvelous says

    Murdoch’s dad was on the original board of the IPA – an Australian “think tank” – which his son Rupert gladly continues to fund and to advance his favoured policies.

    Just look at these few choice items out of the 75 listed at the link …
    14 Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
    15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’
    16 Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
    17 End local content requirements for Australian television stations
    50 Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
    51 Privatise SBS

    For those who don’t know, SBS is kind of like one of those BBCnumber channels. It’s a Government run channel for our multilingual, multicultural population. They now have more advertising because the organisation has been starved of funds for decades now. Surprising how anyone anywhere in the world where Murdoch plants his muddy boots seem to have the same problems with govt run media and govt regulation of all media. I was _so_ impressed that Fox decided against their proposed Canadian operation. Because the government refused to water down or eliminate their fairness doctrine for news media.

  17. pacal says

    What has Africa given the world? Well Myers it is likely you’ve had it many mornings to help you wake up. Coffee!!!

  18. blf says

    Kook O’Shite claims he has apologised (hint: he hasn’t, and misrepresents what he wrote).

    There is a very weird point made in the link:

    [T]he Jewish Council of Ireland partially defended Myers stating that his previous record showed great support for Jews and Israel.

    Eh? This is multiple-odd; as one very notorious example, Kook O’Shite is widely known to have previously written There was no holocaust (or Holocaust, as my computer software insists) and six million Jews were not murdered by the Third Reich. These two statements of mine are irrefutable truths.

    Indeed, The Irish Times† reports:

    Branding Kevin Myers as either an anti-Semite or a Holocaust denier was an absolute distortion of the facts, according to the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland.


    More than any other Irish journalist, said the council in a statement, 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.

    Well, yes, I rather suspect most Irish know the Holocaust happened and an estimated six million Jews (plus others) were brutally murdered. So claims none of that happened would indeed be not […] known.

    The knee-jerk responses from those outside Ireland appear to care little for facts and pass on (along with some media outlets) falsehoods about his previous writings without verification. This has been exacerbated by a thoroughly misleading headline being sent around the world that is wholly unrepresentative of the article to which it refers.

    We seem to have found hair furor’s new dictator of communiqués.

    I have no idea who “The Jewish Council of Ireland” is, but they seem to be, at best, inexplicably uninformed.

      † Just to be clear, the Irish Times has absolutely bugger-all to do with Mordor’s Sunday Times, albeit yonks ago they did employ(?) Kook O’Shite.