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Owen Jones walks off Sky News after presenter plays down anti-gay nature of Orlando attack

2016-06-13
Political commentator and Guardian columnist Owen Jones stormed out of a live Sky News interview last night while discussing yesterday's atrocity in Orlando. An attack by 29-year-old Omar Mateen on Pulse club in Orlando in the early hours of Sunday (June 12) has left at least 50 dead and a further 53 injured. During the discussion for Sky News, Jones was joined by Mark Longhurst and Julia Hartley-Brewer for the Sky News discussion where the three of them discussed the day's papers, but soon clashed over Mateen's motivations. Owen Jones Sky News During the interview, Jones, who is openly gay, stressed that the attack was motivated by homophobia, as Longhurst and Hartley-Brewer seemingly played down the anti-gay nature of the horrific crime. Jones argued, "People rationalise their hatred. People know this, who are gay, that there are people out there who are sickened and repulsed by our very existence and this guy, however he dresses up his bigotry and hatred is somebody who hates gays. "At the end of the day, this is a homophobic hate crime, as well as terrorism, and we have to call it out for what it is." Jones continued, saying that it was "one of the worst atrocities committed against LGBT people in the Western world for generations" before Longhurst interrupted to say  it was "carried out against human beings." "You cannot say this is a worse attack than what was carried out in Paris," Longhurst continued, saying the shooting was an attack "on the freedom of all people out to enjoy themselves, like Bataclan was." The debate quickly got heated, with Jones eventually declaring, "I've had enough of this, I'm going home." Hartley-Brewer attempted to calm him down by saying, "We're trying to have a civilised conversation. I know you're upset and you're very angry, everyone's upset and angry about this but storming off a TV set..." Jones ignores her and storms off, leaving Brewer and Longhurst to carry on without him. Jones took to Twitter this morning to address the incident. In the tweets, Jones thanked "all the lovely comments" he received but explained that what he did was just, "an instinctive reaction to an unpleasant situation" adding that "it isn't about me". He then reiterated his point that the shooting was both a terrorist attack and homophobic attack on the LGBT people. He also asked his followers to "lay off" Brewer, saying that none of the abuse directed at her was in his name. Viewers of the interview also took to Twitter with some people stating that Jones' storming off the show was "embarrassing" while others defended Jones. The White House released a statement yesterday (June 12) saying: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims", while Barack Obama has paid tribute to the victims of the shooting, saying that "we know enough to say this was an act of terror and an act of hate." More stories: Barack Obama pays tribute to LGBT victims of Orlando gay club massacre Orlando gay club attack: death toll rises to 50 as gunman named as 29-year-old Omar Mateen