News & Politics

White House Press Aide Who Threatened Female Reporter Resigns

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

White House deputy press secretary T.J. Ducklo resigned on Saturday after his threat to “destroy” a female reporter became public. The threat was made in January in a phone call between Ducklo and Politico reporter Tara Palmeri, who was looking into Ducklo’s relationship with another journalist, Axios reporter Alexi McCammond. “I will destroy you,” Ducklo reportedly told her.

The story was covered by PJM’s Jim Treacher on Friday. That same day the White House suspended Ducklo for a week. Biden had made a huge deal about playing nice with the media, going so far as to promise to fire anyone accused of uncivil behavior “on the spot.”

Less than 24 hours after he was suspended, Ducklo resigned.

CBS News reports that Ducklo issued a statement:

“No words can express my regret, my embarrassment, and my disgust for my behavior,” Ducklo said in a statement. “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. It was language that was abhorrent, disrespectful, and unacceptable.”

“I knew this was terrible. I know I can’t take it back. But I also know that I can learn from it and do better,” Ducklo continued. “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.”

In a statement, press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the resignation on Saturday, saying she had a discussion with Ducklo on Saturday evening. White House chief of staff Ron Klain supported the conversation, she added.

“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,” Psaki said.

A White House official told CBS News that Mr. Biden is aware of the situation and supports Ducklo’s decision to resign.

This is a far cry from “fire on the spot” — especially since the incident occurred in January and, according to Vanity Fair, there were high-level discussions between Politico and the White House for a couple of weeks about the incident.

So perhaps the president should amend his “on the spot” firing threat and make it “on the spot within a month.”

As it is, Ducklo wasn’t fired at all. He was allowed to resign which doesn’t have quite the same punch as “fire on the spot.” Saying “I will beg you to resign on the spot or after a few weeks” doesn’t put the fear of God into anyone.

Not surprisingly, there is no great outcry in the media about this incident. Jim Treacher knows why:

I don’t have to tell you to imagine how our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters would be reacting if this were still the Trump White House, because you just lived through four years of it. Will they hold Biden to the same standard? Will Biden hold himself to the same high standard he just set?

Will pigs fly? Will the sun set in the east? It’s going to be very boring writing about the relationship of the press to the White House for the next 4 years. Doing stories on obfuscating, downplaying, misrepresenting, and ignoring what’s happening is far less interesting than writing about hysterical over-exaggeration, quoting out-of-context, mega-hyping of small errors, and making every miscue and stupidity by the Trump administration as presaging the end of the republic — that’s fun.

Alas, press coverage of the White House will be in black and white, not technicolor.