President Joe Biden promised upon taking office that he would not tolerate staff members who were disrespectful to others, but it didn’t even take him one month to break that promise.
After it hit the news that his Deputy Press Secretary, TJ Ducklo, had verbally trashed and threatened a female Politico reporter who was trying to do a story on his relationship with an Axios reporter, the administration decided not to follow through on Biden’s promise and fire Ducklo.
Instead, Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that the administration thought the right punishment for Ducklo was a one-week suspension without pay. When Ducklo returned, he would not be assigned to work with any more Politico reporters.
Yeah, that made it right.
Biden shows more hypocrisy
Ducklo definitely fit the definition of behaving disrespectfully that Biden claimed he would not tolerate less than a month ago.
This is what Biden said on Jan. 20: “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. 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.”
However, at nearly the exact same time as Biden’s warning, according to sources, Ducklo reportedly accused Politico reporter Tara Palmeri of pursuing a story about his relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond because she was “jealous” of McCammond, and threatened her, saying, “I will destroy you” for pursuing and publishing the story. He also used vulgar language in accusing Palmeri of jealousy.
All of that is disrespectful to someone just trying to do her job, but Ducklo did apologize to her after what happened became publicly known. Maybe that’s why the administration decided to let it go, or maybe Biden just doesn’t really believe what he said mere weeks ago.
In any case, Biden won’t be pushed harder to follow through on his promise because Ducklo has apparently decided to resign from the administration, calling his own behavior “abhorrent, disrespectful, and unacceptable.”
In many cases, these resignations are not really a matter of choice, but are allowed to look that way so that the president can save face.
Still, it isn’t keeping a promise when you didn’t really fire someone that admittedly engaged in behavior you said you wouldn’t tolerate.
Not a good look for Biden so early in his administration, but exactly what one would expect after watching the campaign and transition so far.