Major newspapers have been publishing people of Myers' ilk for years. No wonder trust in the press is plummetingby Richard Seymour / July 31, 2017 / Leave a comment
What is the optimal level of shock? Every week, in some bland broadsheet or trashfire tabloid, a middle-aged male sadsack lines up the sacred cows of political correctness, shoots them (“in front of their families,” as Jeremy Clarkson might have it), and awaits the scandalised response with a cheeky smirk.
It could be Rod Liddle propounding the weakness of the female sex, Clarkson gleefully punning about “slopes,” or Toby Young slyly suggesting that not enough straight, white men are rewarded at the Oscars.
It could be Howard Jacobson wondering whether the “Asian communities” one sees on television might “want to kill Jews”—a thought he bravely tried to express “without sounding gross”—or James Delingpole apparently saying, of an article about Suzanne Moore, that after “such a seeing-to, she’ll be walking bow-legged for weeks”. Or just Richard Littlejohn, Katie Hopkins or Melanie Phillips any other week.
We, as readers, are supposed to be stunned into first amazement and then secret, titillated admiration at this weekly ritual. But not too amazed: just enough to comment on it, not enough for the reaction to cost anything. The problem is that it’s never entirely clear to your entertaining racist or sexist exactly where the lines are drawn between “jokes” and bigotry, or between that which “everyone is thinking” and that which can’t be said.
This week, it was Kevin Myers who fell on the wrong side of the invisible line. Myers had written, in a now deleted article for the Sunday Times, on the gender pay gap scandal befalling the BBC. Speculating on the reasons for men being paid better, he offered that it was because men are more charismatic, hard-working and driven. Had he stopped there, it’s quite likely that the article would not have been removed.
It was his wry aside, suggesting that Claudia Winklemann and Vanessa Feltz were paid well because as Jews they were better at haggling—or, “not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price”—that resulted in the editorial climbdown. This is made clear in the apology from Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the Irish edition of the Sunday Times, which mentioned the antisemitism but not the misogyny; as though the descent into antisemitism…