Journalist walks off Orlando shootings TV debate

Journalist Owen Jones walked out of a live Sky News interview about the mass killing in Orlando. He clashed with interviewer Mark Longhurst and fellow guest Julia Hartley-Brewer about gunman Omar Mateen’s motives.

Mateen shot 50 people dead in a gay nightclub, Pulse, in Florida. Mr Longhurst told Mr Jones: “Clearly, there is the question of whether, as you say, there is a hate crime or something’s being done in the name of religion.”

Mr Jones disagreed, saying the attack should be “called out” for what it is — a homophobic crime. He also said the panellists were trying to “deflect” the homophobic aspect of the attack.

“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.

Mr Longhurst interjected and said the crime had been carried out against “human beings” who were “trying to enjoy themselves, whatever their sexuality”.

He also said that Mr Jones could not suggest the Orlando attack was “worse” than the Bataclan murders in Paris in November, where more than 100 people were killed. Mr Jones said Mr Longhurst “could not understand”, as he was not gay.

Mr Longhurst retorted: “Whether I’m gay or not has no reflection on the fact that this person killed 50 people.”

Ms Hartley-Brewer sided with Mr Longhurst, saying that she would equally be at risk for being a “gobby woman”.

Mr Jones said: “I just find this the most astonishing thing I’ve ever been involved in on television”.

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