White House deputy press secretary suspended for threatening reporter

Biden Spokeswoman Jen Psaki Worsens Row Over Colleague's Slap on Wrist for Threatening Reporter                REUTERS  CARLOS BARRIA

Despite President Joe Biden's warning last month that he would fire staffers "on the spot" if they were disrespectful to others, Ducklo was merely suspended without pay for a week and told to apologize.

The White House on Friday suspended a press aide who reportedly threatened to "destroy" a reporter working on a story about his relationship with another journalist.

White House Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo has resigned after his controversial harassment of a Politico reporter came to light.

"TJ Ducklo has apologized to the reporter, with whom he had a heated conversation about his personal life", Psaki tweeted Friday afternoon. "I'm a woman, obviously, but I've been in this town working in press and communications for almost 20 years, and I think many of you know and have worked with me closely", Psaki said, "and many of you know many people in this building, including the president, who take these allegations quite seriously". Vanity Fair reported that when he found out about the upcoming article, he attacked Palmeri with "derogatory and misogynistic comments", also threatening to "destroy" her if the article ran.

Biden's Press Secretary Jen Psaki shared on Twitter that Ducklo has been punished. She added that when he returns from suspension he will no longer work with any reporters at Politico.

Critics are slamming the Biden press office after their initial response only acknowledged Ducklo's comments were inappropriate, but did not take disciplinary action until Vanity Fair made his conduct public.

Politico wrote on Tuesday morning about Ducklo dating McCammond and how her employer, Axios, had handled the ethically thorny relationship.

Psaki said she had not discussed the matter with Biden, but had consulted with the White House chief of staff.

"I'm not joking when I say this: if you are ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I will fire you on the spot".

The reporter asked, "Now, it's not a colleague being questioned here, but isn't this, sort of, well short of what he pledged on Inauguration Day?"

The White House responded to the ordeal only after it had made headlines. But instead of calling the male reporter who initially contacted him, Ducklo tried to intimidate Palmeri by phone in an effort to kill the story. "No ifs, ands, or buts", Biden said. Everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity. She said the reporter was "right", but noted that the White House had believed it was "appropriate at the time" to engage privately with Politico "immediately after the conversation occurred".

"Alexi disclosed her relationship with TJ to her editors in November and asked to be taken off of the Biden beat", the company said.

"It was important that we took a step to make that clear", she said.

Psaki said Ducklo has sent the reporter "a personal note professing his profound regret".



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