JEREMY Paxman has told the Marlow Free Press he was not calling David Cameron an idiot after a Conservative MP demanded an apology.
Remarks from the Newsnight anchor, speaking on the Graham Norton show, about the marking of the First World War centenary, sparked an angry letter from senior Downing Street aide Rob Wilson.
He called for a full apology and slammed what he called his "sneering and aggressive approach".
His anger was stirred after the author and journalist had said anyone wanting to celebrate the centenary was a "complete idiot". He appeared to imply the Prime Minister had done so by comparing the event with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Mr Paxman, whose new book Great Britain's Great War, has recently come out, said he was aware of the MP's comments but told the MFP: "I think he's got the wrong end of the stick.
"As I was telling the story, there are a number of people who are worried about the First World War centenary and how it will be marked and they were exercised by the fact that he (David Cameron) had drawn a comparison with the diamond jubilee celebrations.
"I thought I was actually trying to help him by saying no one but an idiot would celebrate a war.
"I was not calling him an idiot, I was saying that they got the wrong end of the stick. He was actually quite careful to draw a distinction between commemoration and celebration."
Mr Paxman was speaking at an event organised by Horizon Books at The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Marlow.