I'm not covering up for Prescott!
There are two serious allegations doing the rounds about the BBC's coverage of John Prescott's office antics that need to be laid to rest.
False allegation 1 - The BBC censored the Prescott story on the day it broke
The Prescott story ran prominently on Radio 4's morning news bulletins, was the subject of the Radio Five Live phone in and was the third element of the Ten O'Clock news coverage of "Labour's Black Wednesday". On the BBC News website, the story received over 500,000 page views.
It's true that it ran less prominently on some other BBC outlets. This proves there was no "censorship". There is - and was - debate and, yes, even some disagreement between and within programme teams about the significance of a politician having an affair, when compared with the significance of foreign prisoners being released without being considered for deportation and nurses having lost faith in the Health Secretary.
As a result the BBC has offended some who believe that Labour is guilty of double standards for attacking Tory sleaze, and that the BBC appears to be in the government's pockets for not pursuing the story as vigorously as we did "Tory sleaze".
Equally there are others who complain - and ring, email and text the BBC to say so - that they are simply not interested in the sex lives of politicians (yes, even if, like Bill Clinton, they do it in their office).
For what it's worth, I believe that because the Deputy Prime Minister's affair was with a civil servant paid for by the taxpayer, and because he was vigorous in attacking the morality of Tory ministers, this is a legitimate story for us to cover.
False allegation 2 - The BBC was rewarded with an exclusive interview with the Prime Minister
Downing Street rang me last Monday to offer a day's filming with Tony Blair on the campaign trail. This is standard fare in an election campaign. They usually offer an exclusive day's filming to each of the BBC, ITN and Sky. This was before the Mirror had told them about Prescott's affair.
I thought they'd probably scrap the arrangement when the story broke. I'm delighted they didn't. Not everyone else is. Journalism's a competitive business!