Axios political reporter Alexi McCammond said via Twitter that “Inside the NBA” host Charles Barkley threatened her when she asked the Hall of Fame former player about the 2020 presidential race.
According to McCammond, Barkley responded, “I don’t hit women but if I did I would hit you,” when she asked about his political support for former Massachusetts governor and newly announced Democratic presidential candidate Deval Patrick after previously backing South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg in July.
When McCammond objected, Barkley said she “couldn’t take a joke,” according to the reporter. She alleged that the comments were made in an off-the-record conversation in advance of Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate in Atlanta, but she opted to make them public because “this is not OK.”
McCammond said that, despite reservations about becoming part of this story, she felt obligated to share Barkley’s alleged threat, citing a 2014 U.S. Department of Justice report that concluded one in four women and one in nine men “experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, etc.”
“It’s not about me or my feelings — [though] I’m grateful for the many friends who have reached out,” McCammond tweeted. “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.
“I encourage you to consider how you’d respond if a friend said something similar to what Barkley said tonight,” she added on Tuesday. “And then challenge yourself to ask the same of yourself if a stranger (or ‘celebrity’) said that. I hope the answers are the same. Everyone should be held accountable.”
A number of people weighed in on Twitter with examples of Barkley’s past incidents involving females. The 56-year-old made a similar attempt at a joke in a 1990 postgame press conference, when he told reporters, “This is a game that if you lose, you go home and beat your wife and kids. Did you see my wife jumping up and down at the end of the game? That’s because she knew I wasn’t going to beat her.”
He later apologized for those comments almost 30 years ago.
In 1991, Barkley spit at a heckling fan who allegedly made racist remarks toward him, inadvertently hitting an 8-year-old girl. He reportedly befriended the family, who served as his guest at future games.
As a commentator, Barkley has likened the Golden State Warriors’ playing style to “girly basketball” and derided the women of San Antonio. Barkley currently works for Turner Sports, which is based in Atlanta.
Turner Sports released a statement on behalf of Barkley on Wednesday morning, in which Barkley apologized for his comments to McCammond.
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