White House deputy press secretary suspended for a week after alleged threats to female reporter

The White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo has been suspended for a week without pay after it emerged that he had threatened a female reporter who had been investigating his relationship with another reporter.

Ducklo’s personal life came under the spotlight when earlier in the week Politico reported on his romantic relationship with Alexi McCammond, a reporter for Axios.  However, before Politico was able to break the story, Ducklo and McCammond went public with their relationship in a People magazine article. This was the first time either one had ever publicly acknowledged their relationship. On Friday, Vanity Fair broke an article which said that Ducklo had made “derogatory and misogynistic” remarks about Politico’s Tara Palmeri when she asked about his relationship with McCammond. The magazine’s sources also said that Ducklo made an off-the-record phone call on October 20th during which he threatened to “destroy” Palmeri.

Jen Psaki said that Ducklo had apologised shortly after he confronted Palmeri, and that White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield had reached out to an editor at Politico to express their regret about the incident. Psaki also said that Ducklo will no longer be assigned to work with reporters from Politico in an effort to ensure the organization’s reporters felt comfortable. However the fact that Ducklo was only suspended rather than fired for his misconduct means that Biden faces claims of hypocrisy.

This is the case because in the early days of his administration President Biden set out the standard of conduct he expected for his staff, “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.” When asked about these comments Psaki said that Ducklo’s conduct “doesn’t meet our standards, it doesn’t meet the president’s standard, and it was important that we took a step to make that clear.” Psaki did suggest that when considering the issue the fact that the confrontation had taken place over a personal issue rather than Whitehouse policy had been taken into account. 




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