Just weeks after President Joe Biden promised to fire staffers "on the spot" if they disrespect others, the White House refused to fire a press aide who abused a reporter.
The Biden administration suspended deputy press secretary T.J. Ducklo for one week without pay after he threatened to "destroy" Politico reporter Tara Palmeri, according to a Friday Vanity Fair report. The punishment contradicts Biden’s January "promise" to fire staffers who "disrespect" or "talk down" to others.
"I’m not joking when I say this: If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect or talk down to someone, I promise you, I will fire you on the spot," Biden said. "On the spot. No ifs, ands, or buts. Everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity. That's been missing in a big way the last four years."
Ducklo lashed out at Palmeri after the Politico journalist contacted him to inquire about his relationship with Axios political reporter Alexi McCammond. Ducklo threatened Palmeri in an attempt to kill the story, making derogatory comments that she was "jealous" that an unnamed man "wanted to fuck" McCammond and not Palmeri, according to Vanity Fair.
"I will destroy you," Ducklo reportedly told her.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the suspension was "her decision" during a Friday briefing, claiming that she has not discussed the ordeal with the president. Psaki confirmed that she addressed Ducklo’s comments with top Politico brass weeks ago but did not take disciplinary action until the incident became public.
Ducklo "will no longer be assigned to work with any reporters at Politico" after his suspension ends, Psaki said. He will, however, continue to work with female reporters at other outlets.