News anchorman in off-air swearing debacle

Channel 4 News anchorman Krishnan Guru-Murthy has been taken off-air for a week after he was caught on microphone making a derogatory comment about Conservative MP Steve Baker, writes BILL HEANEY

Journalism magazine HoldTheFrontPage relates that Guru-Murthy had interviewed the Northern Ireland Minister in a pre-recording for Channel 4 News and the pair had what the journalist later described as a ‘robust’ exchange. After the interview ended, Guru-Murthy, who was outside Downing Street, continued to speak to the MP, who was inside parliament.

HTFP relates that Guru-Murthy had continued: ‘It wasn’t a stupid question Steve – you know it. I’m very happy to go up against you on Truss any day’. After chuckling to himself, Guru-Murthy exclaimed: ‘What a c**t’. The swear word was not broadcast on Channel 4 News but a clip of the exchange, which was on a live stream, found its way onto social media.

Guru-Murthy tweeted an apology to Baker soon after going off-air, and later explained: ‘After a robust interview with Steve Baker MP, I used a very offensive word in an unguarded moment off-air. While it was not broadcast, that word in any context is beneath the standards I set myself and I apologise unreservedly. I have reached out to Steve Baker to say sorry’.

However, in a statement Channel 4 pointed out that the apology was not enough to resolve the breach of its code, explaining: ‘Channel 4 has a strict code of conduct for all its employees, including its programming teams and on-air presenters, and takes any breaches seriously. Following an off-air incident, Channel 4 News anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy has been taken off-air for a week’.

In an interview with Times Radio, Steve Baker said that sacking Guru-Murthy would be a ‘service to the public’ if he was found to be in breach of his code of conduct. Guru-Murthy has worked for Channel 4 News since 1998 and became its main anchorman this year following the departure of Jon Snow.

Co-incidentally, ITV’s political editor Robert Peston has been caught up in an incident involving the same swear word with a mispronunciation of the surname of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt – a pitfall which famously has also previously befallen former BBC broadcasters Andrew Marr and James Naughtie.

The Scottish Daily Mail’s columnist Ephraim Hardcastle delightedly highlighted Peston’s faux pas and confided that former BBC correspondent Jon Sopel had mischievously inquired: ‘Why did he think that having the script line Jeremy Hunt’s cuts would end well?’

Those of you who follow The Democrat will know that I too have been banned from access to the services of West Dunbartonshire Council’s expensive Communications staff for telling press officer Amanda Graham to “bugger off” when she and a team of council officers gathered round to throw me out of a meeting in the Burgh Hall.

This was for asking the Provost of the day, William Hendrie, during an interval if he would have the sound turned up in order that the press and public could hear what was going on during that meeting.

Compare my ban, which goes back a number of years now to the week off air that Guru-Murthy got which was just seven days off-air or no sanction at all which SNP councillor Ian Dickson received when he used the F-word in front of a lady during a meeting.

The West Dunbartonshire Council ban on me is pitifully juvenile, excessive and inappropriate, but I am afraid to say it is what I have come to expect from the SNP.

I had expected Labour, who are now in power at the council, to deal with this matter differently, but council Labour leader Martin Rooney has turned a deaf ear to my requests in that regard.

This wasn’t because The Democrat has published story after story critical of the Council members and officials.

Publish and be Damned, I say. I am 100 per cent behind the view that the media should Publish and Be Damned and the democratic dictum about Freedom of the Press.


Supporting local media

In areas of high deprivation such as West Dunbartonshire where people currently do not have enough money to feed themselves and heat their homes.

This also means they cannot afford to buy newspapers, which now cost more than £1 and sometimes £2. Sometimes more.

That is why local services from digital platforms such as The Democrat can be invaluable to communities in order to keep up with what is happening in the world, including what is going on in their community as well as their local council and other important local organisations.

West Dunbartonshire Council is doing itself no favours and short-changing council taxpayers by its stubborn unfair ban on The Democrat and its refusal to advertise public notices and other services.

The time has come for them to step out of last century and into the 21st.

Even the churches are advertising that they will publish births, marriages and deaths on their websites in order to save families the cost of placing notices in local newspapers which they say are “nearing their demise”.



Here’s a wee bit of philosopy I liked from an unlikely source, none other than Taylor Swift, who in one of her latest songs speaks about keeping her side of the street clean.

According to journalist Roisin Ingle, a Swift fan, keeping my side of the street clean means “taking responsibility. For myself. For my actions. If I took care of my own business, whether it was deadlines or domestic duties or emotional problems, then I would not feel the need to lash out at everybody else. Because I realised – slow-learner alert – that my narkiness at other people was actually narkiness at myself. I felt lighter all of a sudden. The world seemed a little brighter too.

“I waited a few days before I shared this revelation with my family. I decided to find out if keeping my side of the street clean actually made a difference. I was amazed. Suddenly I was no longer preoccupied by everything that was wrong with our house. I stopped fixating on the irritating habits of other people. If something annoyed me I tried to do something constructive about it. If I couldn’t fix it I let it go, knowing I couldn’t control the situation or the person. I could only control my side of the street. I felt calmer. A switch had been flipped. And all because I was keeping my side of the street clean.”

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