An Axios reporter’s relationship with a Biden White House staffer began raising eyebrows over ethics concerns after it was disclosed by Politico Tuesday.
Axios’s Alexi McCammond, also an MSNBC and NBC contributor who covered former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign for two years and now works intimately with the White House beat, is entwined in a romantic relationship with former Biden transition spokesman and current White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo. McCammond was previously engaged to another man last summer.
Politico published details of the arrangement in Tuesday’s “Playbook” newsletter, a daily bulletin for Beltway insiders. McCammond, the magazine reported, disclosed the relationship to her editors in November and asked to be taken off the Biden beat. Axios confirmed the reporting in a statement to The Federalist.
“We reassigned her to cover progressives in Congress, the progressive movement, and Vice President Kamala Harris,” the website wrote in an email. “We stand by behind her and her coverage.”
It’s not hard to find where covering the vice president’s office might still present a conflict of interest, considering it takes commanding orders from the Biden press team. McCammond broke news in December, one month after she was taken off the Biden beat, that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms declined Biden’s offer to lead the Small Business Administration. McCammond cited “people familiar with the discussion.”
An even closer examination of the journalist’s work — specifically looking at what McCammond hasn’t written — reveals where these conflicts appear to have come into play, raising more questions about how her relationship affects the narratives in her work.
In late January, Harris, McCammond’s primary beat, made headlines when she made ignorant comments suggesting West Virginia coal miners ought to consider “reclaiming abandoned land mines.”
Axios covered the story (sort of, but not really), but it wasn’t reported by their journalist dedicated to Harris. Here is the extent of coverage found on the Axios website, authored not by McCammond, but by political reporter Hans Nichols outlining not the comments but rather West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s reaction to the comments in the context of passing the latest round of coronavirus stimulus:
The strategy: Vice President Kamala Harris inaugurated one approach last week by giving interviews with newspapers and TV stations in West Virginia and Arizona. Those are two states where Biden will need the votes of Democratic senators to pass his $1.9 trillion COVID-relief bill.
- But that end-around is fraught with risks and may have backfired in West Virginia. Sen Joe Manchin told a local station: “That’s not a way of working together.”
A search of the Axios archive for Harris’s comments, newsworthy for their extreme ignorance coming from arguably the most powerful vice president in recent memory since she presides over a 50-50 Senate, comes up short in the outlet’s reporting, let alone McCammond’s. Setting Harris’s remarks aside, a prominent moderate West Virginia senator serving as the swing vote in the upper chamber feuds with the vice president, and the beat reporter covering Congress and the vice president’s office doesn’t offer substantive coverage?
Axios and McCammond declined to offer comment on the issue.