White House Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo attempted to quash a story about his relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond “by issuing threats and using derogatory language to another reporter pursuing it,” according to a stunning new report from Vanity Fair.
The reporter Ducklo threatened with “derogatory and misogynistic comments” in addition to threats such as “I will destroy you” was Politico’s Tara Palmeri.
The news flies in the face of President Biden’s day one pledge, wherein he told White House staff: “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.”
Vanity Fair reports:
“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.”
Ducklo also threatened to “ruin her reputation before” suggesting Palmeri was “jealous” that a man in the past had “wanted to fuck” McCammond “and not [Palmeri].”
“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,” Vanity Fair adds.
“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,” Vanity Fair described.
“When the series of calls between the White House and Politico had concluded, Ducklo sent Palmeri an email stating that he was sorry he lost his cool, but he did not delve into any specifics or apologize for threatening and sexually harassing the reporter, according to sources familiar with the exchange,” the report concludes.