Biden press aide suspended after report he threatened, demeaned female reporter
( Fox )
White House deputy press secretary T.J. Ducklo has been suspended for a week after he reportedly made demeaning remarks toward a female reporter, leading to criticism that President Biden broke a promise to fire any staffers who disrespected colleagues.
Vanity Fair reported Friday that Ducklo made "derogatory and misogynistic" comments toward Politico's Tara Palmeri when she asked about his romantic relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond.
Sources told the magazine that Ducklo, in an off-the-record call on Jan. 20, threatened to "destroy" Palmeri and claimed she only wanted to ask about McCammond because of jealousy that an unidentified man in the past had wanted to "f---" McCammond and not Palmeri.
Vanity Fair reported that while Ducklo apologized to Palmeri for losing his temper, White House officials also criticized Palmeri for breaking an off-the-record agreement with Ducklo. The story about McCammond and Ducklo was eventually fed to People for a puff piece on the couple.
The White House announced Friday that Ducklo had been suspended for a week without pay and would no longer work with Politico when he returned.
President Biden said last month that he would immediately fire any of his appointees, "no ifs, ands," or buts," if he ever learned they had treated a colleague with disrespect, leading to criticism that he had broken the pledge with one of his own staffers.
"We have a new definition of slap on the wrist," Nevada-based journalist Jon Ralston tweeted, saying Ducklo's reported language was "repellent and sexist."
Politico made a seeming reference to the spat in its Jan. 21 edition of Playbook, which Palmeri helps write. Noting Biden's comments about treating colleagues with respect, it wrote, "Serious question on our minds this morning: Does this standard apply to how mid-level press aides treat reporters?"
McCammond was reassigned to cover Vice President Kamala Harris in spite of her relationship with Ducklo, which raised eyebrows.
McCammond, who frequently appears on left-leaning MSNBC, continued to cover and comment on the Biden White House for Axios, even after disclosing her relationship in November. Axios, after initially stating she had been taken off the Biden beat, eventually said she had taken a "backseat" on coverage, suggesting she would still play a role despite her conflict of interest.