Biden Aide Ducklo Resigns Over Report He Threatened Reporter
(Bloomberg) -- White House Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo resigned Saturday amid allegations he threatened a reporter who was investigating his relationship with another journalist.
Ducklo’s departure came after Vanity Fair reported Friday that he used misogynistic language as he tried to talk a Politico reporter out of writing about his relationship with an Axios reporter. He was initially given a one-week suspension as his boss, Press Secretary Jen Psaki, defended him. But by Saturday, the situation became untenable.
“We accepted the resignation of TJ Ducklo after a discussion with him this evening,” Psaki said in a statement. “We are committed to striving every day to meet the standard set by the president in treating others with dignity and respect, with civility and with a value for others through our words and our actions.”
President Joe Biden has long made clear he doesn’t accept disrespectful treatment of others by his staff. On Inauguration Day, as he swore in hundreds of political appointees, Biden laid out a zero-tolerance policy for misbehavior.
“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,” Biden said.
After word of Ducklo’s suspension, some Biden aides expressed frustration that he’d been treated too leniently, according to three people familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a personnel matter. Given the nature of his comments to the reporter and Biden’s recent warning, they believed he should have been fired immediately.
Others in the White House believe the press aide had a momentary lapse in judgement and made a bad decision in the language he used, said a fourth person familiar with the matter. The person said the incident seemed out of character for Ducklo and prompted by his desire to protect someone he cared for.
Ducklo, 32, warned a female Politico reporter against publishing a story about his relationship with Alexi McCammond of Axios, who’d covered the Biden campaign, according to the Vanity Fair report. He told the Politico reporter “I will destroy you,” and spoke in sexually explicit terms as he worked to kill the story, according to the magazine.
The Vanity Fair article came after People magazine on Monday published a story about Ducklo’s relationship with McCammond and his treatment for lung cancer. The next morning, Politico Playbook ran its own accounting of the relationship, questioning the ethics of the situation and saying that it had notified the White House of its plans to publish on Monday, giving Ducklo time to rush out the People story.
Ducklo on Saturday expressed remorse for his words. “No words can express my regret, my embarrassment, and my disgust for my behavior,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter.
“I used language that no woman should ever have to hear from anyone.”
Ducklo worked in the communications department at Bloomberg from April 2016 to March 2017.
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