Cunliffe accepts TVNZ assurances
Labour leader David Cunliffe says he has accepted Television New Zealand assurances about presenter Mike Hosking and has dropped his objection to appearing in a live televised leaders' debate with Prime Minister John Key.
Cunliffe said today that TVNZ had assured him Hosking would be scrupulously fair and apolitical in the way he conducted the debate.
Labour had complained that the Seven Sharp host was too close to National and compiled a dossier of examples.
It included Hosking dismissing Cunliffe as a "moron" - and his endorsement of Key before a major political speech last year.
Hosking has stayed out of the row.
But TVNZ made it clear from the start that Hosking would not be pulled and backed him to the hilt.
The controversy has been a distraction for Cunliffe who promised only on Tuesday to "de-clutter" Labour's message and avoid buying into trivial issues.
Boycotting the leaders debate was never an option as it would have been political suicide for Cunliffe not to maximise any opportunity he got to go head-to-head with Key on the campaign trail.