Axios campaign correspondent Alexi McCammond says that while speaking off-the-record with Charles Barkley, the former NBA star made a violence-themed joke towards her.
McCammond was in Atlanta covering the Democratic debates when she attended an event where Barkley was also present. She says that he made a joke that offended her and then tried to play it off by saying she didn’t have a sense of humor, according to Mediaite.
“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,'” McCammond said in a tweet.
The Axios reporter explained that she normally would never break off-the-record agreements, but was so concerned about the situation that she felt compelled to share. She said that Barkley commented after she made a remark about former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick while Barkley was speaking about Pete Buttigieg and Patrick. She says that she asked for clarity on his comments, when he told her he would strike her.
McCammond added a photo of the event to her account of the conversation, which she posted on her Twitter. The image shows a dark, blurry picture of Barkley in a crowd.
Barkley’s comments raised eyebrows because he has a history of making offensive statements toward women. For instance, in 1997, Barkley reportedly said he wouldn’t want to see female referees in the NBA. He also reportedly made a comment about beating his wife after losing a game. In addition, he has recently taken heat for criticizing Democrats and their treatment of black communities.
Many people on social media supported the reporter and called for Barkley’s apology. Others said that they wanted to hear more from the former NBA player before they weighed in, while others criticized McCammond for being too sensitive.
McCammond responded to the fervor over her tweets, saying that she didn’t like being the focus of the conversation, but that the issue was bigger than she was.
“But it’s about refusing to allow this culture to perpetuate because of silence on these issues. It’s easier and less awkward to be silent, but that helps NO ONE but the perpetrator,” she wrote.
According to The Washington Post, Barkley responded on Wednesday, apologizing for his comments. He said that his attempt at a joke “wasn’t funny” and admitted that it was “inappropriate.”
“It was an attempted joke that wasn’t funny at all. There’s no excuse for it and I apologize,” he said.