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Sean Spicer unloads on Politico's Sam Stein over the 'open secret' that an Axios reporter is dating a senior Biden press aide

Politico’s Sam Stein, without tagging them, called out the White House for feeding People magazine a story on Axios report Alexi McCammond dating deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo instead of just responding to his question on the matter.

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Stein tweeted, “Dear press hands: I understand it’s tempting to try and get ahead of a seemingly bad story by feeding it to another outlet that will handle it kindly. It may even seem strategic. But the short term gain you feel will be undone by the longer term damage from the act. Don’t do it.”

Everyone knew exactly what he was talking about, so why not tag them?

Anyway, here are the details from Politico this morning where they called the relationship an “open secret”:

OPEN SECRET — Axios has allowed one of its reporters to continue to write about Joe Biden after she disclosed in November that she is dating his transition spokesman and now White House deputy press secretary, TJ DUCKLO.

ALEXI MCCAMMOND shifted in November to covering progressives, but some of her reporting has been more specific to Biden and his administration. One story billed as a scoop reported that Atlanta Mayor KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS turned down Biden’s offer to head the Small Business Administration. Another said GINA MCCARTHY of California was a leading candidate to become Biden’s climate czar.

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The White House gave People magazine a “glowing profile” of the couple after contacted by Politico:

POLITICO first contacted the White House in late January with questions about Ducklo and McCammond. On Monday evening, Playbook informed Biden’s comms staff that this item would be published today. Hours later, a glowing profile of McCammond and Ducklo’s relationship was published by People.

This isn’t the first time a reporter has been romantically intertwined with a source involved in his or her coverage area. Newsrooms have different policies to handle those situations. Axios was asked about its policy but did not describe it in its statement.

It’s kind of a big deal:

But the White House is brushing off any conflict. Here’s deputy communications director Kate Berner:

Is anyone surprised?

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Axios says they’re avoiding a conflict by moving her to — wait for it — covering VP Kamala Harris instead:

From People:

Ducklo and McCammond also don’t live together (though Ducklo has been dog-sitting McCammond’s mini-schnauzer, Marlin).

Guys, they “keep it totally separate”:

“We keep it totally separate. I don’t know what she’s working on and she doesn’t know what I’m working on,” Ducklo says. “It means a lot of calls in hallways, in bathrooms and while one of us is walking her dog.”

Only in D.C. do people think this isn’t a conflict:

And here’s former White House press secretary Sean Spicer pointing out that Politico seems to have sat on this “open secret” for quite some time which resulted in the White House getting a chance to give the gushing story to People:

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Different rules when it’s a Dem, apparently:

“Exactly”:

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