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Broadcasting Authority

Morning Ireland was unfair in calling Kevin Myers a 'Holocaust denier' - BAI

Myers previously described himself as such in describing his issues with the word ‘holocaust’ itself, rather than in denying the genocide of European Jews during World War II.

Kevin Myers Reporters Kevin Myers Graham Hughes / Graham Hughes / /

RTÉ’s MORNING IRELAND was ‘unfair’ in describing journalist Kevin Myers as a Holocaust denier, according to a decision on a complaint by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

The decision was officially arrived at last Thursday.

A complaint by a member of the public had been lodged with the BAI concerning a statement made by a presenter on the flagship RTÉ weekday programme in late July 2017, which saw Myers referred to as a ‘Holocaust denier’.

That assertion stems from a series of articles written by the columnist in 2009 for the Belfast Telegraph and Irish Independent newspapers, in which he took umbrage with the application of the word ‘Holocaust’ with regard to the genocide of European Jews during World War II.

In those articles, Myers referred to himself as a “Holocaust denier”, with his chief issue being the use of the original Greek word itself, stating that there was no single ‘holocaust’ as the genocide in question took many forms.

The complainant asserted that Myers was not disputing that genocide had taken place, merely the semantic implications of the word ‘Holocaust’ itself, and cited a number of references on Myers’ behalf that had been made in the aftermath of the furore, including by the Jewish Representative Council.


They also said that no senior member of the Irish Jewish community has described Myers as a ‘denier’, and that to describe the writer as such would amount to ‘an absolute distortion of the facts’.

“The complainant adds that Mr Myers has written many times about the Holocaust and the suffering of the Jews and that it is ridiculous and offensive to label him as (a) ‘Holocaust denier’,” the decision reads.

The 2009 article had come to the fore at the time as a result of Myers writing (and subsequently losing his job with the Sunday Times over) a column dealing with the gender pay gap seen at the BBC, with particular reference to Jewish female presenters Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz.

In defending the complaint, RTÉ stated that in describing Myers as such its presenter was merely using “Mr Myers’ own words”.

“The broadcaster maintains that if he is being referred to around the world as a Holocaust denier, it is because he described himself as such,” the broadcaster’s response reads.

In considering the complaint, the BAI had regard to the obligations set out in its own code of fairness, objectivity and impartiality, which require the presentation of “views and fact in a way which does not misrepresent those views or facts or render them misleading”.

“It was the opinion of the committee that these obligations had not been met in the broadcast,” the BAI said.

While noting that Mr Myers had described himself as a ‘Holocaust denier’ in a typically provocative newspaper article that he had written, it was evident from the article as a whole that his description did not in fact amount to a statement denying the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Rather, the article was a comment on how language is used and the criminalisation of individuals or groups who engage in Holocaust denial.

The BAI considered that the presenter’s description of Myers was “considered to lack fairness to (Myers) and… misrepresented his views in a manner which would likely mislead audiences as to his views”.

Accordingly, the authority decided to uphold the complaint.

The full decision can be read here

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