Deputy press secretary for the Biden Administration TJ Ducklo is under intense scrutiny after he was caught threatening female journalist Tara Palmeri after she uncovered his romantic relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond who was in charge of covering Biden’s campaign.
The threat from Ducklo is quite ironic considering President Joe Biden recently said that he would have zero tolerance for “disrespectful” people in his administration yet Ducklo still appears to have a job.
Vanity Fair details the threats made by Ducklo to Pameri:
The confrontation began on Inauguration Day, January 20, after Palmeri, a coauthor of Politico’s Playbook, contacted McCammond for comment while one of her male colleagues left a message for Ducklo, according to sources. Ducklo subsequently called a Playbook editor to object to the story, but was told to call the Playbook reporters with his concerns. 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. “I will destroy you,” Ducklo told her, according to sources, adding that he would ruin her reputation if she published it.
During the off-the-record call, Ducklo made derogatory and misogynistic comments, accusing Palmeri of only reporting on his relationship—which, due to the ethics questions that factor into the relationship between a journalist and White House official, falls under the purview of her reporting beat—because she was “jealous” that an unidentified man in the past had “wanted to fuck” McCammond “and not you.” Ducklo also accused Palmeri of being “jealous” of his relationship with McCammond. (Palmeri had no prior relationship or communication with McCammond before calling her to report on the Playbook item, which was a story that she was assigned and had not independently pursued.)
The following day, an editor at Politico reached out to the White House about Ducklo’s threats, spurring multiple conversations between the news outlet and senior-level officials on January 21, including White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield, and Biden senior adviser Anita Dunn. In one of those calls, senior White House officials acknowledged that Ducklo’s handling of the call with Palmeri was inappropriate and said he would send a note to her apologizing for the comments. In another conversation, the same White House officials took aim at Palmeri by accusing her of breaking an off-the-record agreement with Ducklo and pressing Politico as to why the contents of the call had been revealed. Palmeri had only informed her editors of the contents of the call, which she had transcribed into her notes as it was happening, after they asked her about it.
The shocking threats raise serious questions about behavior like this that is tolerated in the Biden Administration. Just a couple weeks ago, Biden said that bad behavior would not be tolerated in his administration.
“I am 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 promise you I will fire you on the spot. No ifs, ands, or buts,” Biden said at the time.
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