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TV Panelist Storms Off Set During Orlando Segment: You’re ‘Deflecting’ the Homophobia!

A Sky News debate on the Orlando terrorist attack got pretty heated after one of the panelists got irritated with the other two for, as he put it, “deflecting” away from the issue of homophobia.

Owen Jones, a columnist for The Guardian and an openly gay man, said that the gunman very clearly hated gays and if he went into a synagogue and killed Jewish people (or went to a kosher market, like in France last year), we would rightly emphasize the anti-Semitic angle.

And it annoyed Jones that news outlets have seemingly downplayed the LGBT targeting. Presenter Mark Longhurst said this was an attack “carried out against human beings” and he ended up clashing with Jones, who said, “You don’t understand, ’cause you’re not gay, okay?”

Fellow panelist Julia Hartley-Brewer sided with Longhurst and said this was clearly an attack on civilized humanity and it’s unclear just how much was motivated by homophobia. Jones bewilderedly cried, “Why are you trying to deflect?!”

He called the debate “the most astonishing thing I’ve ever been involved in on television,” told them both they’re being “bizarre” for not accepting it as an attack on gay people, and finally stormed out.

He said “I’ve had enough” and walked out as Hartley-Brewer scolded him.

Jones followed up in a column today:

This was homophobia as well as terrorism. It is not enough to simply condemn violence: we have to understand what it is and why it happened.

It wasn’t only Sky News at fault. In the New York Times’ original reporting, it didn’t even point out that a gay club had been targeted. The Daily Mail didn’t bother to put the atrocity – the worst terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11 – on its front page, instead opting to stir up xenophobia over Turkish immigrants and publicising an offer of “free pearl and white sapphire earrings”. This is erasure of LGBT people – pure and simple – after their community was horrifically targeted.

You can watch the full debate above, via Sky News.

[image via screengrab]

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac