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Politicon 2018

Source: Michael S. Schwartz / Getty

The Rising Star

Alexi Jo McCammond’s political reporting career began with a promising start. The busy news writer cut her teeth with big names in the media industry, freelancing for companies like Cosmopolitan and Bustle, where she later served as a news editor. However, 2017 was a career-defining moment for the Illinois native. McCammond joined Axios as a full-time political reporter where she captivated readers with her in-depth pieces, most notably, the 2020 Presidential election. The star reporter provided extensive coverage on Biden’s campaign and uncovered the mysterious world of President Trump’s time in the White House. Like in February 2019, when a White House official leaked presidential schedules which revealed that Trump spent around “60% of his scheduled time in unstructured “Executive Time.”

McCammond quickly rose up the ranks of the political journalism world, a hasty journey that would see her land roles with both MSNBC and NBC as a contributor. In 2019, she was named the emerging journalist of the year by the National Association of Black Journalists.

 

A Show Down With Charles Barkley 

McCammond called out former NBA star Charles Barkley after he joked that he was going to “hit” her as the two were at a bar in Atlanta.

“Just FYI Charles Barkley told me tonight “I don’t hit women but if I did I would hit you,” and then when I objected to that he told me I “couldn’t take a joke,” she tweeted in November 2019.

McCammond, who was in the peach state covering the Democratic presidential debate at the time, said Barkley’s remark came after he expressed affection for both former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

“I reminded him he previously said he was a Deval fan,” McCammond tweeted.

The reporter then shared a few stats on physical abuse, noting how the joke shed light on the growing issue of physical violence against women.

Barkley issued a statement to Turner Sports, calling his comments “inappropriate and unacceptable”.

“It was an attempted joke that wasn’t funny at all,” he added. “There’s no excuse for it and I apologize.”

 

When Love And Work Don’t Mix

McCammond received further media attention related to her relationship with TJ Ducklo,  Biden’s former White House Deputy Press Secretary. The young reporter was selected to cover Biden’s campaign in 2019 and grew close to Ducklo as they worked along the Democrat’s trail. When their relationship became official, an Axios spokeswoman on behalf of McCammond told PEOPLE that she personally “asked to be taken off of the Biden beat.” She was reassigned to cover progressive lawmakers in Congress as well as Vice President Kamala Harris.

McCammond echoed a similar sentiment to the publication gushing about her new romance with Ducklo. “When my personal life had the potential to interfere with my work, I didn’t think twice about sharing my happiness in November with Axios that I’d found someone in TJ who shows up for me in a way I’d only hoped for.”

The star continued: “These past few years have shown how easy it is for some to make quick and misguided judgments of those in the public eye. As a young Black woman in this industry, I’ve felt this firsthand several times. TJ and I knew full well the unfair criticism our relationship might face, but knew that we weren’t going to let bullies get in the way of our own happiness.”

But at times, love doesn’t come without war. TJ Ducklo quickly resigned from the White House in February 2021, after he threatened to “destroy” the career of Politico reporter Tara Palmeri, who was gearing up to publish a piece mentioning his relationship with McCammond.

While lashing out over the phone, Ducklo tried to intimidate Palmeri. “I will destroy you,” he allegedly shouted. Ducklo followed up his offensive behavior with a few more derogatory and misogynistic comments, accusing Palmeri of publishing the story because she was “jealous” “that an unidentified man in the past had “wanted to f*ck” McCammond “and not you,” Vanity Fair noted.

After his resignation, Ducklo released a statement telling the public:

“No words can express my regret, my embarrassment, and my disgust for my behavior. I used language that no woman should ever have to hear from anyone, especially in a situation where she was just trying to do her job. It was a language that was abhorrent, disrespectful, and unacceptable.”

 

McCammond’s Problematic Tweets

In 2020, Forbes featured the 28-year-old star on their Forbes Under 30 List. McCammond would have been the third Black woman to serve as editor-in-chief at Teen Vogue, joining the ranks of both Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Elaine Welteroth, but the critically acclaimed writer’s career quickly changed when the past came back to haunt her.

On March 5, 2021, Teen Vogue happily announced McCammond as their editor and chief, but the joyous occasion quickly turned sour when a series of offensive tweets she posted as a teenager resurfaced.  The tweets, which dated back to 2011, included derogatory comments about Asian people’s features and stereotypes. She also made homophobic remarks about the LGBTQ community. Like clockwork, employees from the publication complained demanding for the journalist’s prestigious offer to be rescinded.

“In a moment of historically high anti-Asian violence and amid the ongoing struggles of the LGBT community, we as the staff of Teen Vogue fully reject those sentiments,” the statement on Twitter read.“ We are hopeful that an internal conversation will prove fruitful in maintaining the integrity granted to us by our audience.”

Vogue said they were well aware of the tweets and that McCammond had apologized in 2019 when they were initially brought to their attention. However, as the backlash ensued, the reporter quickly released an apology later condemning her hateful remarks again.

“You’ve seen some offensive, idiotic tweets from when I was a teenager that perpetuated harmful and racist stereotypes about Asian Americans,” she wrote following the uproar. “I apologized for them years ago, but I want to be clear today: I apologize deeply to all of you for the pain this has caused. There’s no excuse for language like that.”

Big-named brands such as Ulta Beauty and Burt’s Bees joined in solidarity with the offended Vogue staffers temporarily suspending their campaigns with the publication. Days later, Vogue officially announced that they were parting ways with the political writer. “After speaking with Alexi this morning, we agreed that it was best to part ways, so as to not overshadow the important work happening at Teen Vogue,” Stan Duncan, the chief people officer at Condé Nast, said in an email obtained by The New York Times. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only controversial incident that pushed the young journalist into headlines.

McCammond’s Return To Axios

On July 6, 2021 McCammond returned to Axios after working at NBC News. The talented journalist is a political reporter and covers covers the 2022 midterm elections and the progressive movement.  Jim VandeHei, co-founder and CEO of Axios, was happy about her return.

“Alexi McCammond is an accomplished journalist and professional,” he told the New York Post. “We’re excited and proud that she is returning to Axios.”

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