Owen Jones storms off Sky News after heated debate about motives of Orlando nightclub massacre gunman - Press Gazette

Owen Jones storms off Sky News after heated debate about motives of Orlando nightclub massacre gunman

Columnist and author Owen Jones stormed off the Sky News newspaper review last night after a heated discussion with fellow presenters about the Orlando massacre.

He was discussing newspaper coverage of the attack with Julia Hartley-Brewer and Sky News host Mark Longhurst.

Gunman Omar Mateen killed at least 50 people in attack on a LGBT nightclub on Saturday night/Sunday morning,

The discussion became heated after Jones (himself gay) said this was a “homophbic terrorist attack”.

Hartley-Brewer questioned whether he had “ownership of the horror”. And Longhurst said “you cannot say this is a worse attack than what happened in Paris”.

Here’s an edited transcript:

JHB: “Clearly there is the question about whether there is a hate crime or whether something’s been done in the name of religion…”

OJ: “It’s both. This guy apparently saw two men kissing and he was repulsed by it. People know this who are gay, that there are people 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.

“He hates LGBT people and he had a gun and because of America’s gun laws he used that to murder LGBT people.

“Let’s be clear, if he went into a synagogue and killed innocent Jewish people…we would call it out for what it is. This person is a homophobic terrorist whatever else he is.

“On Sky News and other news channels there’s not been many LGBT voices that I’ve personally heard myself and people have to understand, LGBT people watching this and elsewhere, they look at something like this and it is one of the worst atrocities committed against LGBT people in the western world for generations and it has to be called out for what it is.

ML: “It’s something that’s carried out against human beings… let’s just make this point, you cannot say this is a worse attack than what happened in Paris against innocent people…

OJ: “I didn’t say that…What I am saying is this has to be called out for what it is. It was an intentional attack on LGBT people.”

ML: “On the freedom of all people to try and enjoy themselves as Bataclan was.”

OJ: “I’m sorry, can we just explain, you don’t understand this because you’re not gay OK.  So just listen…”

ML: “Whether I’m gay or not it has no reflection on…”

JHB: “I don’t think you have ownership of horror of this crime because you’re gay.”

OJ: “OK, I find this astonishing.”

JHB: “I’m not Jewish and I’m not gay and I’m not French and I’m still horrified by these crimes.”

OJ: “I’m being yelled at.”

JHB: “You don’t stop talking so we have to.”

ML: “That’s the headline ‘ISIL wages war on gays in West’, now you share that view that basically this was deliberately targeted at one part of the community rather than the freedom to enjoy yourself no matter what your sexual orientation is.”

OJ: “What on Earth, what are you talking about?”

ML: “I’m talking about the coverage in the newspapers, that’s what we’re here for.”

OJ: “I’m trying to understand the point you’re making. This was a deliberate attack on LGBT people in a LGBT venue, it was a homophobic terrorist attack, do you not understand that?

“It’s not an abstract, he just picked a random club out of nowhere.He picked a club because it was full of people he regarded as deviants.”

JHB: “My guess is this man would be as horrified by me as a gobby woman…We don’t know right now, we can speculate, but we don’t know how much of this is motivated by just his homophobia…”

OJ: “We heard from his own father, why are we trying to deflect. Can I ask what argument are you trying to pick here?

ML: “We are trying to reflect what is being said by the authorities, you brought up his father I am now going to quote from what the Telegraph is saying: ‘Mateen’s father said his son, a US citizen of Afghan descent, may have targeted the gay community after becoming angry…'”

OJ: “May have, why are you saying this?”

JHB: “After seeing two men kissing in Miami some months ago, he may have been angered by many other things since then..”

OJ: “I’m sorry I just find this the most astonishing thing I’ve ever been involved in on the television…”

ML: “We are trying to draw parallels in terrorist attacks whether they are being attacked for enjoying rock music in Paris, whether they are gay people in Florida enjoying a night out OK?”

JHB: “For me the issue is there are going to be homophobic people, people who hate black people, or hate gay people, or hate Jewish people, there are going to be people who are lunatics.”

OJ: “Lunatics…Stop using these words Julia.”

JHB: “Is it possible for me to finish one sentence?”

OJ: “If you stop using words like lunatic to talk about homophobic terrorist attacks.”

JHB: “Here’s the thing. I’ll choose the words I want to use, you choose the words you want to use, do you understand?”

OJ: “Go for it Julia.”

JHB: “Whoever these people are, whatever their motivations are, the key thing is we are always going to have mad and bad in the world.”

OJ: “Mad and bad people, OK.”

JHB: “And the key issue is that they can’t do too much or any harm. When you have free access to assault weapons in a country like America they they are able to put their hatred into affect.”

OJ: “Yes obviously…”

ML: “No matter who you want to target with the attacks, is this again a major issue for America or is it that these people would be able to get hold of the weapons wherever they are in the world…”

[zooming in on the Telegraph front page]

“We’ve got a call from..a spokesperson for Stonewall saying people would be feeling vulnerable”

OJ: “Oh you’re going to have an LGBT voice talking about it, interesting…”

JHB: “Owen seriously.”

OJ: “I’ve had enough of this.”

JHB: “Genuinely we are trying to have a civilised conversation. I know you’re upset and angry, everyone’s upset and angry. But storming off a TV set.”

OJ: “Sorry.”



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Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette

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