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Biden Press Aide Suspended Over Threat

TJ Ducklo reportedly verbally attacked reporter writing about 'about his personal life'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2021 4:36 PM CST

(Newser) – A White House press aide has been suspended for a week after threatening a reporter who was writing a story about him. Press secretary Jen Psaki announced Friday that TJ Ducklo was sent home without pay, CNN reports. He's apologized to the reporter, Tara Palmeri of Politico, Psaki said, over a "heated conversation about his personal life." Palmeri wrote this week about possible conflicts of interest in covering the Biden administration for Axios reporter Alexi McCammond, who's dating Ducklo. Vanity Fair reported that when he found out about the upcoming article, he attacked Palmeri with "derogatory and misogynistic comments," also threatening to "destroy" her if the article ran. The suspension, Psaki said, "was an important step to send the message that we don't find this acceptable."

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When he returns to work, Ducklo won't work with Poltico reporters, Psaki said. "It feels like she is punishing us more than him," another Politico employee said. In his first week in office, per NBC, President Biden told appointees that if "you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot." Reporters pressed Psaki to square that policy with Ducklo's one-week suspension. She said White House officials conferred with Politco editors, and "that was what we felt was appropriate at the time." Biden was not consulted, Psaki said. And she noted that Ducklo's outburst concerned his personal life and not White House policy or issues. Still, Psaki said she made clear to Ducklo that "this will never happen again and is not going to be tolerated here at the White House." (Read more Jen Psaki stories.)

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