White House Spokesperson Suspended After Threatening Politico Reporter

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.
February 12, 2021 Updated: February 13, 2021

The White House has suspended a spokesperson who is romantically involved with a reporter after a report emerged alleging he threatened a different reporter working on a story about the relationship.

TJ Ducklo has been placed on a weeklong suspension without pay, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a series of social media posts.

“In addition, when he returns, he will no longer be assigned to work with any reporters at Politico,” she added.

Ducklo is dating Alexi McCammond, an Axios reporter. Politico reporter Tara Palmeri, working on a story about the relationship, reached out to Ducklo. According to a report published earlier Friday, Ducklo threatened Palmeri, at one point telling her, “I will destroy you.”

Ducklo “has apologized to the reporter, with whom he had a heated conversation about his personal life,” Psaki said, adding: “He is the first to acknowledge this is not the standard of behavior set out by the president.”

Biden told a group of administration officials last month that he would fire them if he ever heard about them treating another person badly.

“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,” Biden said. “On the spot. No ifs, ands, or buts. Everybody, everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity. That’s been missing in a big way the last four years.”

Matt Kaminski, Politico’s editor-in-chief, and Carrie Budoff Brown, an editor, said in a joint statement emailed to The Epoch Times: “We raised our concerns about the incident directly with the White House at the time. No journalist at POLITICO—or any other publication or network—should ever be subjected to such unfounded personal attacks while doing their job. POLITICO reporters and editors are committed to forging a professional and transparent relationship with public office holders and their staff and expect the same in return.”

An Axios spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email: “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.”

Ducklo didn’t return a request for comment.

Ducklo joined the White House press shop after working for President Joe Biden’s campaign.

His relationship with McCammond was disclosed in a profile published by People magazine. The relationship started in November 2020.

“We both realized we both felt the same way,” Ducklo told the magazine. “We’re both really happy, and we wanted to do it the right way.”

Both said they alerted their bosses; McCammond was then reassigned.

When my personal life had the potential to interfere with my work, I didn’t think twice about sharing my happiness in November with Axios that I’d found someone in TJ who shows up for me in a way I’d only hoped for,” McCammond said.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the reason Ducklo was suspended. The Epoch Times regrets the error.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.