Campbell’s fiery exchange with Sky News political editor Adam Boulton was broadcast live by the 24-hour news channel as it covered the aftermath of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s announcement he will stand down as Labour leader.
During the confrontation, Campbell accused Boulton of treating Brown like “dead meat” and wanting David Cameron in Downing Street.
Boulton insisted he had reported impartially, demanding that Campbell – who is understood to have been offering advice to Brown over the days since the election – produce evidence of him favouring the Conservative leader.
Sky News said that Boulton had “defended his integrity” and by implication that of the channel.
Speaking yesterday, Campbell said: “I watched a lot of the online reaction, I think most people realise he behaved like a complete… very unprofessional.
“I think the way the media covered this campaign was a joke and what people like Adam can’t accept… they parade as impartial, independent, if you challenge them on any level about anything they say, they have little temper tantrums like yesterday.
“I have to say I thought he was pathetic, but he needs a rest.”
The exchange was kicked off by Boulton questioning whether the nation needed “four more months of Gordon Brown limping on until he retires”.
Campbell responded: “Adam, I know that you’ve been spending the last few years saying Gordon Brown is dead meat and he should be going anyway.”
Boulton replied: “I’m not saying that, show me where I said that once.”
The broadcaster pointed out that Conservatives had secured more votes and seats than Labour in last week’s election.
Campbell replied: “Yes, I know, you’re obviously upset that David Cameron is not prime minister.”
A clearly angry Boulton responded: “I’m not upset. You keep casting aspersions… Don’t keep telling me what I think. I’m fed up with you telling me what I think, I don’t think that.”
Campbell was told he was being unnecessarily “provocative”, but said: “He is saying Gordon Brown is no longer legitimately in Downing Street, I’m saying he is. He is.”
And Boulton replied: “No, I’m saying look at the performances in the elections, Labour did worse than the Conservatives, will you accept that?”
Asking Campbell why Brown had not consulted Labour MPs before making his announcement, Boulton said: “You’re the one that cooked it up, you’re the one that’s cooked it up with Peter Mandelson.”
Campbell branded this assertion “unbelievable”.