Journalist Owen Jones storms out of Sky News 'Press Preview' show after clash over Orlando shooting

Guardian columnist Owen Jones walked off Sky News' Press Preview show on Sunday night (12 June), after clashing with fellow guests over the motives of a lone gunman who opened fire in Orlando's Pulse nightclub killing 50 people.

Jones accused host, Mark Longhurst and fellow commentator Julia Hartley-Brewer of "trying to deflect" discussion around the homophobic element of the attack, noting that Omar Mateen, the man identified by officials as the offender, had targeted a gay club.

During a heated debate, the Chavs author, who is gay himself, relayed concerns that media outlets were failing to "call out" the attack for being " a homophobic hate crime as well as terrorism."

"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," he said.

"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."

The attack is the deadliest mass shooting in US history, and has left dozens dead and 53 wounded.

Longhirst drew comparisons between the tragedy and the Paris' Bataclan shootings in November, saying that the perpetrator's actions were an assault on the freedom of people looking to enjoy themselves.

He added: "The question about whether it's a hate crime or whether something's been done in the name of religion," to which Jones replied "it's both."

Jones called the debate "the most astonishing thing" he'd ever been involved in on television, before shrugging his shoulders at the language being used by Hartley-Brewer who called the gunman a "lunatic."

The final straw for the journalist came when Longhirst referred to a quote from a Stonewall spokesperson published by the Telegraph, "oh you're going to have an LGBT voice talking about it? Interesting," he remarked before removing his mic and walking off the set.

Fellow reporters and campaigners were swift to lend their support to the Labour member on Twitter.

Jones asked Twitter users to stop directing abuse towards Hartley-Brewer on the platform, who responded by saying that there was no animosity between her and Jones off screen.

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Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is a reporter at The Drum. Based in London, she writes news, analysis and features around brand marketing and digital innovation. She has interviewed key figures from the likes of Airbnb, Amnesty International, Unilever, Facebook and Spotify, as well as covering events in Europe and the US like Ad Week, Dmexco, Dreamforce and Ciclope.

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