Reporter Skips Covering the President Because He is Falling in Love With a Biden Aide Who is Fighting Cancer Did Not Think Twice About It: TJ Ducklo, a White House deputy press secretary, says of Axios’ Alexi McCammond, “We both realized we felt the same way.” “We’re both very happy, and we wanted to do it the right way.”
It’s a story as old as stories themselves, to use a cliche: Girl meets boy, boy and girl decide to get drinks together next year for personal, not a business, reasons. They go out (pandemic-safe, of course). Parents meet each other. A romance starts to grow.
But there were some bumps in the road for Alexi McCammond and TJ Ducklo.
McCammond, who is 27, is a contributor to NBC and MSNBC and a reporter for the website Axios. In 2019 and 2020, she wrote about Joe Biden’s run for president and got to know Ducklo, who was then Biden’s press secretary.
They were colleagues, which is common between reporters and officials, and then they became friends. McCammond was in a serious relationship, but Ducklo, who was 32, was “super single.” Things change, though.
They say that they started going out in November.
“We both realized we felt the same way,” says Ducklo, who works as a deputy press secretary in the Biden White House. “We’re both very happy, and we wanted to do it the right way.”
It meant they had to tell their bosses. A spokeswoman for Axios said that McCammond, who started working for the site in 2017, told her editors in November about the relationship “and asked to be taken off the Biden beat.” The spokeswoman says she was moved to cover progressives in Congress, progressives across the country, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
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The spokeswoman says of McCammond, “We stand behind her and her coverage.” She calls McCammond “a valuable member of the Axios team.”
McCammond says, “When my personal life could have gotten in the way of my work, I didn’t think twice about telling Axios in November how happy I was to have found TJ, who helps me in ways I’d only hoped for.”
“My Axios family, who had my back in November and know how nice it is to find someone who cares deeply about you, made it easy for me to decide to switch beats,” McCammond says.
A White House source said that Ducklo also told his bosses about the relationship as soon as it started. The source called Ducklo “a very talented and important member of the team.”
They know that people will think their relationship is wrong, at least because of how it looks and when it started. In Washington, D.C., the way the press reports on politicians is constantly criticized for being too soft or too hard, too friendly or too mean.
McCammond, who is a rising star in her field, has talked about what it’s like to be a Black woman in an industry that hasn’t always been friendly to either of those groups. As a group, female reporters have long had to deal with the sexist accusation that they get too close to their male sources.
“In the past few years, we’ve seen how easy it is for people to judge people in the public eye in a way that isn’t fair. As a young Black woman working in this field, I’ve felt this more than once “Says McCammond. “TJ and I knew that our relationship would get unfair criticism, but we weren’t going to let bullies stop us from being happy.”
McCammond’s work on Capitol Hill and with Harris hasn’t really taken her out of Biden’s circle of influence that much. Still, she and Ducklo say they don’t mix their work and personal lives, and their relationship wasn’t exactly a secret. “It was the worst-kept secret in Washington,” says another White House aide, who, like others here, was quick to say good things about the relationship.
Ducklo and McCammond don’t live together either, though Ducklo has been taking care of McCammond’s dog, Marlin, while McCammond is away.
“We don’t mix them up at all. I have no idea what she is working on, and she has no idea what I am doing “Ducklo says. “That means we get a lot of calls in hallways, bathrooms, and while one of us is walking her dog.” (Has he helped her in any way while they’ve been dating? He says, “Absolutely not!” She says, “Since we started dating, TJ has not been a source for any story I’ve worked on in any way.”
They have helped each other. Ducklo was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer in December 2019 and has been getting treatment while working on the campaign and in the White House. McCammond goes to his cancer scans with him.
She says that Ducklo’s diagnosis made her realize that she had changed her mind about him.
“When we both had some free time after the election, it was clear that our years-long friendship could lead to something else. When TJ’s illness was found,… I knew then how much he meant to me, and I’m glad that as his partner, I can be there for him every step of the way “she says.
Life goes quickly.
“In December 2019, it looked like Joe Biden was going to lose the Democratic primary, and I had stage four cancer and was very single,” Ducklo says. “One year later, Joe Biden is the next president-elect, and I’ve got my cancer under control. I’m also in a serious relationship, which is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. How much can change in a year!”
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