Radio presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer has hit back at abusive tweeters complaining about the Sky News segment on the Orlando shooting that saw Guardian journalist Owen Jones leave the set in anger.
The Guardian’s Jones appeared on Sky News to discuss the newspaper coverage of the tragic shooting in Orlando, Florida at LGBT nightclub Pulse. The attack tragically killed 49 people and injured many others. Hartley-Brewer from radio company talkRADIO was a panelist on the show along with Sky News host Mark Longhurst.
Throughout the segment, Jones said it was a homophobic attack on the LGBT community, to which Longhurst responded it was an attack on all humans and their freedom in having fun.
While Jones repeatedly stated his belief it was a homophobic attack and that Longhurst couldn’t understand “because he wasn’t gay”, the debate got more heated with Hartley-Brewer jumping in too.
In a piece penned for The Telegraph in the UK, Hartley-Brewer said this was not about Jones, it was about the horrific shooting and people should remember that.
“It is not about one gay journalist and his apparently hurt feelings,” she wrote.
She said she’d received “thousands of abusive tweets” over the weekend about the segment, and called out Jones’ piece in The Guardian that said he was amazed at the lengths people would go to ignore homophobia.
“I have now watched the full exchange three times and I am still at a loss as to what Owen Jones found so disgusting,” wrote Hartley-Brewer. “And, no, that’s not because I am ignorant or stupid or a bigoted homophobe, as Owen’s delightful Twitter followers seem to think, but because nothing was said that could remotely have caused such a scene.
“Neither the Sky presenter Mark Longhurst nor I said anything that was offensive, wrong or bigoted in any way.”
During the exchange, Jones noted the others couldn’t understand the horror of the attack “because you’re not gay”.
To which Hartley-Brewer responded with in writing in The Telegraph piece: “While I can understand that someone who feels a particular affinity with victims of a violent crime may feel the pain more acutely, it’s a very worrying state of affairs if straight people aren’t allowed to be horrified by crimes against gay people.
“I’m not French or a rock music fan and yet I was horrified by what happened in the Bataclan in Paris last November. I’m not Jewish but I am disgusted by the wave of antisemitic attacks sweeping Britain and the rest of Europe. I’m not black but I am just as appalled by the murder of black people as I am those with white skin.”
Sky News’ Longhurst has reportedly apologised for the segment, saying there was never an intention to offend anyone.
In a piece on The Guardian, Longhurst’s statement reads: “As the presenter responsible for chairing the conversation, I regret that the segment ended as it did. I absolutely accept the atrocity in Florida was, of course, an attack on LGBT people, but I was also trying to reflect what was on the newspaper front pages.
“It was never my intention to offend Owen Jones and I very much look forward to working with him again in future.”
The Guardian also claims nearly 60 complaints were received by OfCom, industry regulatory body in the UK, with many of them complaining about the apparent dismissive nature of the Sky News hosts towards Jones.
In Jones’ piece about his appearance, he reiterated it wasn’t about him, however was amazed at people ignoring homophobia.
“In sum, I walked off in disgust during a discussion about the massacre: it was an instinctive reaction to an unpleasant and untenable situation,” he wrote.
“The presenter continually and repeatedly refused to accept that this was an attack on LGBT people. This was an attack ‘against human beings’, he said, and ‘the freedom of all people to try to enjoy themselves’. He not only refused to accept it as an attack on LGBT people, but was increasingly agitated that I – as a gay man – would claim it as such.
“If a terrorist with a track record of expressing hatred of and disgust at Jewish people had walked into a synagogue and murdered 50 Jewish people, we would rightly describe it as both terrorism and an antisemitic attack. If a Jewish guest on television had tried to describe it as such, it would be disgraceful if they were not only contradicted, but shouted down as they did so. But this is what happened on Sky News with a gay man talking about the mass murder of LGBT people.”
B&T has contacted Jones, Sky News, OfCom and talkRADIO for further comment but had not heard back at the time of publication.
Lead image: Screenshot via YouTube user Raheem Kassam.