Journalist Owen Jones stormed out of a live television interview about the mass killing in Orlando after clashing with the host and fellow guest during a discussion about the gunman’s motives.
Discussing the Orlando shooting, which left 50 people dead and 53 hospitalised after a gunman targeted a gay nightclub, Jones was in protest at his interviewer’s refusal to name the shooting an attack on LGBT people, the Independent reports.
He stressed the importance of ‘calling out’ the attack for what it was – a homophobic crime.
Jones during the interview:
At the end of the day this was a homophobic hate crime, as well as terrorism and it has to be called out, as I have to say, on Sky News and lots of news channels, there’s not been many LGBT voices that I’ve heard myself.
It is one of the worst atrocities committed against LGBT people in the western world for generations and it has to be called out as such.
Host Mark Longhurst interjected, saying the crime had been carried out against ‘human beings’ who were ‘trying to enjoy themselves, whatever their sexuality.’
The interview surrounded U.S. citizen Omar Mateen who opened fire in gay nightclub Pulse on Saturday, killing at least 50 people and injuring 53 more. Longhurst said Jones could not suggest the Orlando attack was ‘worse’ than the murder of more than 100 people in Paris last November, to which Jones responded Longhurt ‘could not understand’ as he was not gay.
He also added the presenters were trying to ‘deflect’ the homophobic element of the attack.
When co-panelist and journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer suggested the killer might have taken equal offence against her as ‘a gobby woman’, Jones responded with:
I’m sorry, I just find this the most astonishing thing I’ve ever been involved in on television.
If he’d [Mateen] walked into a synagogue and massacred dozens of Jewish people, you wouldn’t be saying what you’re saying now. You would be talking about it as an anti-semitic attack. This was a deliberate attack on LGBT people.
As Longhurst and Hartley-Brewer moved on to mention a commentator from gay rights group Stonewall, Mr Jones said: “I’ve had enough of this,” took off his microphone and left the set.
Hartley-Brewer has since been accused by MP Diane Abbott of not ‘realising’ how ‘in denial’ of homophobia she was.
— Julia Hartley-Brewer (@JuliaHB1) June 12, 2016
And people on social media were overwhelmingly supportive of Jones’ decision to walk out:
Just watched that sky news paper review. The fact Owen doesn't walk out after 4 mins is a miracle. Bunch of right wing morons.
— Cameron Mellowes (@CameronMellowes) June 13, 2016
UK media very badly needs many MORE people like @OwenJones84
— Tom London (@TomLondon6) June 13, 2016
— Katie Martin (@katie_martin_fx) June 13, 2016
— Eve Hartley (@eve_hartley) June 12, 2016
Overwhelmingly, the consensus seems to be that Jones was right in walking off.