Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Only a ‘ludicrous gossip rag’ would ask about someone’s willy size


butt channel 4 Krishnan Guru-Murthy Quentin Tarantino robert downey jr speaker Union

Channel 4’s presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s CV is enough to stress you out.

For those with dreams of becoming the next big broadcast journalist, you may want to think again. Guru-Murthy was already working on youth current affairs BBC programmes BEFORE he even got to university. Whilst at Oxford Uni, he presented BBC2’s Asian current affairs programmes.

Feeling inadequate yet? Don’t blame The Tab, we’re just the bearers of bad news.

Two professionals getting down to business

Guru-Murthy was also bad news for Robert Downey Jr and Quentin Tarantino. These two titans of Hollywood managed to get royally pissed off with the journalist, and Channel 4’s interview with them went viral.

Is there anything which would make him walk out of an interview? He resolutely responds, ‘absolutely nothing – I think it’s a very silly way of reacting to an interview’. I’m guessing this means he won’t shut my butt down. I don’t know whether to be disappointed or not…

The Tab hit the headlines last year when they inquired about the size of Robert Downey Junior’s willy size. Wouldn’t this provocative question warrant an extreme response (for the record, he told The Tab that he wasn’t called ‘Throbbing knob’ for nothing)?

Murthy, clearly amused, teases that The Tab was ‘well out of the zone of Channel 4’. He says that to ask about willy size was suiting for a ‘ludicrous gossip rag.’ What could he possibly be talking about?

To Murthy, the whole RDJ and Tarantino controversy was quite bizarre but slightly bemusing. Why over 27 years of interviewing, had only 2 gained such media attention? It was not his controversial questions, nor Tarantino telling him ‘I’m going to shut your butt down’ which made this go viral, but the ‘echo chamber’ of social media.

Murthy didn’t want to discuss the same bland promotional questions of these two influential Hollywood figures. He wanted more. Why not discuss real world issues with them? With Tarantino, Guru was inquiring about violence in his films, which seemed especially salient since the premiere for Django Unchained was cancelled after the Sandy Hook gun massacre.

Showing non-official shots from the chamber is fine if it’s a photo of a photo.

These interviews, despite being his most-watched work, do not give Murthy justice. He speaks with justified enthusiasm when discussing his involvement in “Unreported World”, a Channel-4 series which tells the untold stories of people in some of the most isolated regions of the planet.

He tells the Union chamber about the story which particularly affected him. The first time Krishnan cried on TV was during one of his “Unreported World” projects in Senegal. Patients there suffering from cancer were not provided with morphine to relieve pain whilst dying.

The “Unreported World” series seems to fly in the face of convention of traditional news stories. It is rare that you will get in-depth and sustained analysis of problems which are so far removed from people’s life experience in the UK.

Guru- Murthy believes that ‘the further away you get, the more deaths you need to have’ if you are to engage audiences. This has been a criticism levelled at Western media in light of the scant reporting of the conflicts in the Middle East. The huge amount of press attention given to the Paris attacks in contrast to the minimal reporting on the bombings in Baghdad highlighted this point very acutely.

In terms of the Paris attacks, broadcast media has been deliberately ‘moderated’ in their reporting. Shocking images, whilst capturing the grim reality of life on the ground is sometimes unnecessary. He argues, ‘you cannot just bash people over the head with grim news all the time’.

Speaking at the Union last week, Julian Assange was critical of the selfishnesses of western media, shaming the self-interested agenda of the BBC for example. Murthy did not get on board with this, saying such ‘conspiracies on the whole tend not to be true’. Simply: ‘I haven’t encountered it.’

Guru-Murthy seems pretty defensive of Western media, especially when retorting Assange’s claims of a self-interested agenda within the BBC. He protests, ‘consipiracies on the whole tend not to be true’.

Murthy does however, have some doubts. He ends the talk on the slightly pessimistic note that the fight for gender and racial equality in the media might have ‘slipped back’. The attitude that ‘we’ve cracked that, so no longer need to try so hard’ is deeply unhelpful.

Guru-Murthy is best known for his interviews. They can be both informative yet also deeply awkward to watch. Whatever you say about him, he’s probably more interesting than you.