White House Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo has resigned after he reportedly threatened a reporter who was working on a story about his secret romantic relationship with another journalist.
‘I am devastated to have embarrassed and disappointed my White House colleagues and President Biden, and after a discussion with White House communications leadership tonight, I resigned my position and will not be returning from administrative leave, Ducklo said in a statement on Saturday.
‘No words can express my regret, my embarrassment, and my disgust for my behavior. I used language that no woman should ever have to hear from anyone, especially in a situation where she was just trying to do her job,’ he said.
Vanity Fair reported on Friday that Ducklo had made threats – including ‘I will destroy you’ – to Politico correspondent Tara Palmeri, who was reporting a piece about Ducklo’s romance with an Axios reporter, Alexi McCammond.
White House Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo (above) has resigned after threatening a reporter who was working on a story about his romantic relationship with another journalist
Ducklo had called Politico reporter Tara Palmeri (left) to say he would ‘destroy’ her over an article she was planning to write about his romance with Axios journalist Alexi McCammond (right)
‘It was language that was abhorrent, disrespectful, and unacceptable,’ Ducklo said in his statement.
‘I know this was terrible. I know I can’t take it back. But I also know I can learn from it and do better, This incident is not representative of who I am as a person, and I will be determined to earn back the trust of everyone I have let down because of my intolerable actions,’ he added.
The White House confirmed Ducklo’s resignation, saying in a statement: ‘We accepted the resignation of TJ Ducklo after a discussion with him this evening.’
‘This conversation occurred with the support of the White House Chief of Staff. 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,’ the statement added.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had come under fire for her initial decision to suspend suspend Ducklo for one week without pay, despite President Joe Biden’s vow of a zero-tolerance policy for abusive behavior in his administration.
Journalists heavily criticized the suspension as inadequate, saying it was a signal that reporters were fair game for abuse in the new administration.
‘Apparently members of the media don’t merit the same protections from Biden as his colleagues do,’ wrote Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple.
White House Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo has resigned after he reportedly threatened a reporter who was working on a story about his secret romantic relationship with another journalist. Pictured; TJ Ducklo and Alexi McCammond
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki came under fire for her initial decision to suspend suspend Ducklo for one week without pay, which journalists blasted as inadequate
Politico’s top editors Matt Kaminski and Carrie Budoff Brown had said in a statement: ‘No journalist at Politico —or any other publication or network — should ever be subjected to such unfounded personal attacks while doing their job.’
At Friday’s briefing, Psaki had insisted that Ducklo’s suspension was an ‘important step’ to show his behavior was ‘completely unacceptable’.
Ducklo’s threat to ‘destroy’ Palmeri only came to light this week, but occurred in a phone call on Inauguration Day — the same day that Biden vowed to fire ‘on the spot’ any aides that ‘disrespect’ other people.
The timeline raised questions over why Ducklo had only been suspended after his behavior was made public and was not reprimanded at the time.
Psaki avoided directly answering the question when asked why Ducklo had not been immediately fired over the incident saying ‘we felt it was a serious punishment’ to give him a one-week suspension.
‘It doesn’t meet our standard, it doesn’t meet the president’s standard,’ Psaki said.
‘It was important that we took a step to make that clear and that included not just an apology directly from him and apologies directly from us at the highest levels there, but also a step to suspend him for one week without pay,’ said Psaki.
She added: ‘That, in our view, was an important step to send the message that we don’t find it acceptable.’
‘I am devastated to have embarrassed and disappointed my White House colleagues and President Biden,’ Ducklo said in a statement on his resignation
The White House is coming under fire of its handling of the matter, which took place on the very day that the president issued his ‘no tolerance’ warning to staff vowing to fire ‘on the spot’ any staff who treated others with ‘disrespect’
CNN White House reporter Kaitlan Collins pressed Psaki on the content of what he said and the sexist tone of his remarks: ‘It wasn’t just a hostile conversation. I think we’ve all probably have plenty of those and vice versa, those happen.
‘But you know the language that he is alleged to have used according to this report – it is arguably or even not arguably sexist. So, what are you doing to deal with that part of it.’
‘It’s completely unacceptable. He knows that. I’ve had conversations with him about that,’ said Psaki, who was Ducklo’s direct supervisor.
Vanity Fair on Friday revealed that Palmeri reached out to McCammond to ask her about the romance while one of Palmeri’s male colleagues contacted Ducklo about it.
But Ducklo called Palmeri, instead of her male colleague, and threatened her in an effort to kill the story.
He told her he would ‘destroy’ her and accused her of being jealous that an unidentified man in the past had ‘wanted to f***’ McCammond ‘and not you.’
After Ducklo’s comments to Palmeri, a Politico editor reached out to the White House, which led to several conversations between Politico staff and senior-level White House communications staff, including Psaki, Bedingfield, and Anita Dunn, director of West Wing operations and a longtime Democratic operative.