Feb 12, 2021 - Economy

Biden press aide suspended for one week for threatening reporter


Biden speaking to reporters. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo has been placed on one-week suspension without pay after Vanity Fair reported that he threatened to ruin the reputation of a Politico reporter pursuing a story about his relationship with an Axios reporter.

Why it matters: It's an early test of how President Biden disciplines White House staff after four years of the Trump administration's adversarial relationship with the press. Biden warned on his first day in the White House: "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."

What they're saying: "TJ Ducklo has apologized to the reporter, with whom he had a heated conversation about his personal life. He is the first to acknowledge this is not the standard of behavior set out by the President," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

  • "In addition to his initial apology, he has sent the reporter a personal note expressing his profound regret," she continued.
  • "With the approval of the White House Chief of Staff, he has been placed on a one-week suspension without pay. In addition, when he returns, he will no longer be assigned to work with any reporters at Politico."

Context: Politico reported on Ducklo's relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond in its Playbook newsletter earlier this week.

  • An Axios spokesperson told Politico: “Alexi disclosed her relationship with TJ to her editors in November and asked to be taken off of the Biden beat. We reassigned her to cover progressives in Congress, the progressive movement, and Vice President Kamala Harris. Alexi is a valued member of the Axios team, and we stand behind her and her coverage.”
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