TJ Ducklo is a senior member of Joe Biden’s communications team, and served as such during the 2020 political campaign. Alexi McCammond is a reporter for Axios.
Last year, the two began a romantic relationship. That would have been fine, except for the fact that McCammond was covering the Biden campaign.
According to Allahpundit, McCammand “resolved” this conflict of interests by switching beats. She began covering the Harris vice presidential campaign. How’s that for journalistic integrity?
Recently, People Magazine ran a puff piece of a story about the Ducklo-McCammond romance. The two graciously provided quotes for the piece.
The People Magazine article may have been an attempt by Ducklo to “get ahead of the story” of his affair. Because on inauguration day, a female Politico reporter, Tara Palmieri, contacted McCammond about the matter and a male reporter from the same publication tried to reach Ducklo.
Instead of calling back the reporter who had called him, Ducklo called Palmieri. Vanity Fair reports:
Ducklo tried to intimidate Palmeri by phone in an effort to kill the story. “I will destroy you,” Ducklo told her, according to sources, adding that he would ruin her reputation if she published it.
During the off-the-record call, Ducklo made derogatory and misogynistic comments, accusing Palmeri of only reporting on his relationship––which, due to the ethics questions that factor into the relationship between a journalist and White House official, falls under the purview of her reporting beat––because she was “jealous” that an unidentified man in the past had “wanted to fuck” McCammond “and not you.” 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.)
During the same general timeframe that his flack was raging at Palmieri, Joe Biden had this to say to his White House staff about the new tone that supposedly will prevail in his administration:
[If] I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise I will fire you on the spot.
What action, then, did Team Biden take against Ducklo for his worse-than-disrespectful, worse-than-“talking down” harangue against a reporter? It suspended him for a week. In addition, Ducklo “will not be assigned to work with any reporters from Politico.”
Politico’s staff is outraged, and understandably so. “It feels like [communications head Jen Psaki] is punishing us more than him,” said one reporter, noting that the outlet will lose access to one of the highest ranking White House communications officials.
Biden is no favorite of the mainstream media. Most reporters would much preferred to have seen Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or Pete Buttigieg in the White House.
Now that Biden is president, the media is willing to perform its traditional task of covering for Democrats. However, I doubt that many reporters relish covering for this particular one. Once the thrill of Trump’s absence is gone, their lack of enthusiasm for the task might well manifest itself, albeit subtly.
The Ducklo incident might expedite the process, and not just at Politico.