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.
@JuliaHB1 Don't think you realise how in denial about homophobic nature of the attack you appeared to be @OwenJones84 @SkyNews #Orlando
— Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) 12 June 2016
Mark Longhurst and Julia Hartley-Brewer should be ashamed of themselves, and won't be. Good for @OwenJones84 for not being polite about it. — Archie Bland (@archiebland) 12 June 2016
Never respected @OwenJones84 more for walking out after Sky News' mindblowing ignorance tonight.
— Ella Alexander (@ella__alexander) 12 June 2016
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.
Just for the record, folks, @OwenJones84 and I are friends and his issue wasn't with anything I said. So save your angry tweets. — Julia Hartley-Brewer (@JuliaHB1) 12 June 2016