Julia Hartley-Brewer refuses to apologise to Owen Jones and compares him to Isis

Columnist attacks Sky News for apologising to fellow commentator

Maya Oppenheim@mayaoppenheim
Tuesday 14 June 2016 10:51
Owen Jones storms off Sky News set after host 'downplays' homophobic motive

Julia Hartley-Brewer has penned a scathing response to Owen Jones - and claimed he had "more in common with Isis than he thinks".

The talkRADIO presenter and Telegraph columnist said she would not say sorry to Jones and criticised Sky News for apologising to him.

Jones, who writes for the Guardian and is a former Independent columnist, clashed with co-panelist Hartley-Brewer and host Mark Longhurst on Sky News Press Preview on Sunday night.

Jones stormed out of the discussion about the mass shooting in Orlando in protest at the interviewer’s refusal to name the atrocity as an assault on LGBT people.

Writing in a comment piece for The Telegraph, Hartley-Brewer said she did not understand what Jones found unpleasant about the discussion and called his decision to walk out a “childish tantrum”.

She emphasised the fact she had also described the killing as homophobic during the on-air conversation.

“Neither the Sky presenter Mark Longhurst nor I said anything that was offensive, wrong or bigoted in any way,” she said.

By lunchtime on Monday, OfCom had received almost 60 complaints about the programme, saying Hartley-Brewer and Longhurst had been dismissive of Jones’s argument that the attack was one on the LGBT community.

Longhurst issued a statement expressing "regret" over the incident, saying: "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.”

While the statement was labelled a "non-apology" by Jones, Hartley-Brewer wrote: “Sky News have chosen to try to dampen down the hysteria by releasing an apology for any offence caused by Mark Longhurst.

“I believe they were quite wrong to be bullied into doing this. Owen Jones does not deserve an apology and he certainly won’t be getting one from me. And neither does anyone else who has jumped on the perpetually offended bandwagon.”

She concluded the piece by comparing her co-panellist to Isis, the Islamist extremist group also known as Islamic State.

"If Owen Jones wants to live in a world where people can only say what is on the officially approved list of platitudes, then perhaps he has more in common with Islamic State than he thinks," she wrote.

Writing in a Guardian column on Monday, Jones expanded on his reasons for walking out, arguing that some people will do all they can to ignore homophobia.

He asserted that it was possible for the killing to be simultaneously described as more than one thing at the same time. He also argued that if a terrorist carried out an attack on a synagogue it would rightly be labelled it as both terrorism and antisemitism.

He also referred to host Longhurst, saying: “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."

On Twitter, Jones also asked the public to leave co-panelist Hartley-Brewer alone. “None of the abuse directed at her is in my name,” he wrote.

Patrick Strudwick, the LGBT editor of BuzzFeed News UK, refused to speak to Hartley-Brewer in a phone interview about the Orlando killing, saying she had failed to show respect to the LGBT community in the wake of the tragedy. Mr Strudwick posted his reply to the email request on Twitter.

A total of 49 people were killed and 53 were injured after Omar Mateen, apparently inspired by Isis, stormed LGBT nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida, in the early hours of Sunday morning. It was the biggest mass shooting in modern US history.

In the initial interview on Sunday night, Jones disagreed with both Hartley-Brewer and Longhurst after arguing there had been a lack of LGBT voices in mainstream news commentary of the killing.

“It is one of the worst atrocities committed against LGBT people in the western world for generations and it has to be called out as such,” he said.

Longhurst interjected and said the killing had been committed against “human beings” who were “trying to enjoy themselves, whatever their sexuality”.

Later, Jones claimed Longhurst “could not understand” because he himself was not gay.

The situation quickly escalated with Jones saying, “I’ve had enough of this,” and removing his microphone before walking off the set., leaving the pair to continue their discussion without him.

Jones and Sky News did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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