White House Explains Why Press Aide Was Suspended For Sexist Comments To Reporter

NBC News

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki dodged questions about a deputy press secretary’s punishment for making sexist insults to a female reporter seeking comment from the White House on Friday.

The White House suspended press aide TJ Ducklo for one week without pay for making the remarks, first reported in Vanity Fair. President Joe Biden promised on Inauguration Day to fire “on the spot” any staffer or aide who treats “a colleague” with disrespect. Psaki said at a Friday briefing that she did not consult the president on the decision and that it was made between her and White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain. (RELATED: ‘I Will Fire You On The Spot’: Biden Says He Will Have Zero Tolerance For Staffers Disrespecting Others)

Politico reporter Tara Palmeri reportedly reached out to Ducklo for comment regarding his ongoing relationship with an Axios reporter covering the Biden administration, Alexi McCammond. Ducklo reportedly attempted to intimidate Palmeri into not reporting the story, saying “I will destroy you.”

He also accused Palmeri of being “jealous” that an unknown man “wanted to fuck” McCammond instead of her, according to Vanity Fair.

As he was swearing in White House staff on Jan. 20, Biden promised to fire any staffer “on the spot” if they disrespect or talk down to “a colleague.”

“But I am not joking when I say this, if you are ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect… talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot,” he said at the time. “On the spot. No ifs, ands or buts. Everybody… everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity. That’s been missing in a big way the last four years.”

Reporters pressed Psaki on whether the suspension fell short of Biden’s promise of a firing, despite the reporter not technically being a “colleague.” Paski simply said Ducklo’s actions did not meet Biden’s nor her standards.

The White House did not suspend Ducklo until news of the incident was made public in Vanity Fair.