This was buried away at the very tail end of this morning’s programme, but it was there nonetheless, and it is very important to highlight it. Here is what Bryan Dobson (who did not work for Morning Ireland at the time of the defamation) had to say:
“On July 31st, 2017, Morning Ireland introduced an item that suggested that Kevin Myers was a holocaust denier. This was untrue, and defamatory of Mr. Myers character. Morning Ireland acknowledges that Mr Myers has, for over three decades, repeatedly testified to the scale and wickedness of Hitler’s “final solution”. Morning Ireland acknowledges the damage done to Mr. Myers reputation. We regret this, and unreservedly apologise”
The suggestion that Kevin Myers is, or was ever, a holocaust denier, is patently absurd. Kevin has been, for three decades, one of this country’s most resolute opponents of anti-semitism. The fact that such a claim made it to air says much more about the culture of RTE, and the way that the media in this country treats people outside of the consensus, than it does about Kevin Myers.
At the time, you may recall, Mr. Myers had lost his position as a columnist with the Sunday Times because of a deeply ill-advised comment about the religion of BBC Presenters Vanessa Feltz and Claudia Winkleman, in which he said:
“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”
Mr. Myers has himself apologised unreservedly for those comments, and his former editor has apologised for allowing them to be published in the first place. When you write for a living, it is almost a certainty that you will, at some point, write something horribly wrong. You do tend to rely on editors to catch those things and save you from yourself. Myers should never have written those words in the first place, but he was failed, inexplicably and terribly, by his editors at the Sunday Times (who are, incidentally, usually some of the best in the business).
But all that background aside, how did RTE get from that to “Kevin Myers is a holocaust denier”?
What tends to happen, in Ireland (and in fairness, in much of the modern west) when a previously upstanding person has a public fall from grace is that there then begins a tremendous rush to denounce him and all his works in the most dramatic possible terms. There was, in 2017, a concerted effort to delete Kevin Myers from public life entirely. That meant, in essence, that pretty much anything was permissible, in destroying him. Every single one of the words that he had written in a 30 year career was trawled through, every previous controversy unearthed, and a national determination made that he was a terrible person. It was a horribly vicious, deliberate, and determined campaign against a sensitive and thoughtful man.
And here’s the thing – it worked.
Kevin Myers has not written for a newspaper since. One of Ireland’s most distinctive voices – love him or hate him – has gone, at least in part because the national broadcaster’s flagship radio programme decided to call him a holocaust denier.
One hopes that Mr. Myers has received substantial damages. It would be the single best use of the licence fee for several years.