White House Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo Resigns After Threatening Reporter
White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo on Saturday resigned after coming under fire for threatening and harassing a reporter pursuing a story about a relationship between Ducklo and another reporter, capping off a chaotic saga that became the nascent White House’s first major scandal.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that the White House accepted Ducklo’s resignation following a conversation with White House chief of staff Ron Klain. Psaki said the White House is “committed to striving every day to meet the standard set by the President in treating others with dignity and respect” after coming under fire on Friday for initially handing down an unpaid, week-long suspension. Ducklo, who had already been under scrutiny for his relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond, faced intense criticism after Vanity Fair reported he told Politico Playbook reporter Tara Palmieri “I will destroy you” for pursuing the story. Ducklo also reportedly accused Palmieri of being “jealous” of his relationship with McCammond and that an unnamed man “wanted to f–ck” McCammond instead of her, which prompted allegations of sexual harassment. Ducklo said in a statement on Saturday that “no words can express my regret, my embarrassment, and my disgust for my behavior” calling his words “abhorrent, disrespectful and unacceptable.”
“If you ever work with me & I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I will fire you on the spot. No ifs, ands or buts,” President Joe Biden said on Jan. 20, shortly after taking office. Those words have proven a critical standard early in his presidency, having been frequently pointed to as a key reason for why Ducklo had to go.
The White House’s initial handling of the incident came under severe scrutiny from reporters, particularly the fact that, in addition to being suspended, Ducklo was barred from working with Politico reporters. Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez said at the time the move “punishes Politico by depriving them of a White House source that all of their competitors now have.”
What To Watch For
The move signals a White House sensitive to criticism from both the allies and the press, a noticeable sea change from the Trump administration, which more often than not brushed off press criticism.