White House Deputy Press Secretary T.J. Ducklo was suspended for one week without pay after a report that he threatened a reporter for Politico.
Ducklo also will no longer be assigned to work with Politico’s reporting team.
On Friday, Vanity Fair reported that Ducklo had a verbal confrontation with Politico‘s Tara Palmeri, who was working on a story on his relationship with a reporter for Axios, Alexi McCammond. A male Politico reporter had contacted Ducklo, while Palmeri had reached out to McCammond. But Ducklo called Palmeri to object to the piece.
“I will destroy you” if the story was published, Ducklo told her, according to Vanity Fair. He also reportedly “made derogatory and misogynistic comments.”
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At the daily press briefing on Friday, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki “how can you keep this person in a public-facing press relations role dealing with female reporters when he made such sexist comments to this female reporter reaching out for a request for comment.”
Psaki told correspondents on Friday that Ducklo “apologized to the reporter quite shortly after the comments were made.”
“He had a heated conversation about a story related to his personal life,” Psaki said. “I’m not saying that’s acceptable, but I just want to be clear it was not about an issue related to the White House or White House policy or anything along those lines. He’s the first to acknowledge that this is not the standard of behavior set out by the president, nor is it the standard of behavior set out by me, and I am his direct supervisor.” She said that Kate Bedingfield, the White House communications director, also reached out to the Politico Playbook editor to “convey our apology and be clear this will not happen again, and this will not be tolerated at the White House.”
Psaki also was asked whether this fell short of what President Joe Biden told staffers on Inauguration Day, that he would fire them “on the spot” if “you ever work with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect.”
Psaki said that Ducklo’s suspension was “in our view was an important step to send the message that we don’t find it acceptable.”
Psaki said that the decision to suspend Ducklo was made by her with the approval of Chief of Staff Ron Klain, but that Biden was not involved.
Ducklo served as press secretary during Biden’s presidential campaign, and previously had P.R. positions at NBC News and the Motion Picture Association.
People magazine published a story on Ducklo’s relationship with McCammond. She covered Biden’s presidential campaign and has been reassigned to a new beat covering progressive leaders and Vice President Kamala Harris.
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