Updated: Saturday, 7p.m. — TJ Ducklo has resigned.
My statement on resigning from the White House. pic.twitter.com/3Jpiiv75vB— TJ Ducklo (@TDucklo) February 14, 2021
Here’s a statement from Psaki:
Updated — TJ Ducklo has been suspended for a week without pay, which honestly isn’t enough for pulling some petty-ass Jason Miller sh*t.
Original Story Below
Look: If you are a communications aide for the White House, the press doesn’t have to be the “enemy.” But if you are a reporter covering the White House, there should be something of an adversarial relationship. And if a reporter and a White House communications aide are dating, obviously there will be ethical concerns. The least you can do is to be transparent about that relationship. If someone tries to call you on it, maybe don’t threaten to destroy their career.
To be clear, and just so no one accuses us of a double standard: Joe Biden should terminate the employment of White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo. Not because he is dating Axios political reporter Alexi McCammond — who covered the Biden campaign, but who has since switched beats to cover Kamala Harris so that she can pursue her relationship with Ducklo — but because TJ Ducklo lashed out at Politico reporter Tara Palmeri and tried to force her to kill the story, telling her by phone, “I will destroy you.” He also reportedly told Palmeri that she was jealous because an unnamed man “wanted to fuck” McCammond “and not you.”
This is all some real high-school bullshit. What’s doubly messed up here is that Ducklo tried to head off Palmeri at the pass by giving the story to People, who wrote a sympathetic piece about Ducklo and McCammond. It’s some real flowery stuff, too:
It is — forgive the cliché — a tale as old as tales themselves: Girl meets boy, boy and girl decide to have personal-not-professional drinks the following year. They date (pandemic-safe, of course). Parents get introduced. A romance blossoms.
For her part, McCammond says, “When my personal life had the potential to interfere with my work, I didn’t think twice about sharing my happiness in November with Axios that I’d found someone in TJ who shows up for me in a way I’d only hoped for.”
“Switching beats was an easy decision thanks to my Axios [family], who had my back in November and know just how lovely it is to find someone who cares deeply about you,” McCammond says.
Ducklo likewise “disclosed the relationship to his bosses at the very beginning of the relationship,” says a White House source who called him “an incredibly talented and valued member of the team.”
They know news of their relationship will stir disapproval over the optics and the timing, at least. The way the press covers politicians in Washington, D.C., is endlessly scrutinized — too lax or too harsh, too familiar, too fond.
I don’t want to sound too cynical, but the People piece, which also works in Ducklo’s cancer diagnosis in 2019, is the work of some really skilled PR professionals. It doesn’t change the fact, however, that Ducklo lashed out unprofessionally, and apparently did not apologize for “threatening and sexually harassing” Palmeri.
It’s something of a tale of two stories:
A White House official told a reporter pursuing a story about his relationship with another reporter that he would “destroy” her and that she was “jealous” of his relationship with his girlfriend. He brought up her sex life to belittle and intimidate her. https://t.co/cevSxv0hIw pic.twitter.com/xkxUuC2jdo— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) February 12, 2021
Remember what we reported Biden said while swearing in his employees on the first day of his Presidency: “I’m not joking when I say this: If you ever work with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I will fire you on the spot. No ifs, ands or buts.” I hope we don’t see any ifs, ands, or buts from Jenn Psaki in her next press conference.
This sure feels like it belongs under the category of “treating another colleague with disrespect.”
Source: Vanity Fair
Header Image Source: CNN