The Original Modo
I thought I knew the whole Sally Quinn story from the home wrecking affair with the married Ben Bradlee to her ascendancy to the throne of Queen Village Tabby. But I must confess that until I read this great piece by Jamison Foser on her recent foray into Noonanland, I didn't know about this:
Monday, Dec. 31, 1979
Press: Brzezinski's Zipper Was Up
And the Washington Post is caught with its facts down
As the reporter was leaving, he began to joke around and flirt with her. Suddenly he unzipped his fly. —Washington Post, Dec. 19
In yesterday's story about Zbigniew Brzezinski, it was stated that at the end of an interview with a reporter from a national magazine—as a joke—Brzezinski committed an offensive act, and that a photographer took a picture "of this unusual expression of playfulness." Brzezinski did not commit such an act, and there is no picture of him doing so. —Washington Post, Dec. 20
The Iranian crisis was in its seventh week and OPEC was propelling oil prices to historic heights. But in that cosmopolitan capital on the Potomac, the best and the brightest were preoccupied with a more delicate matter: the open or shut case of Zbigniew Brzezinski's fly. As it turned out, President Carter's National Security Adviser had kept his zipper up, and the Washington Post was caught with its trousers down.
The brouhaha resulted from a free-form and free-floating three-part series by Post Staff Writer Sally Quinn, who is known in Washington for her withering (some would say bitchy) profiles of prominent personalities. She outdid herself with the Brzezinski series, which contains a few blatantly smirky and sophomoric passages. She began the first installment with an account of how he had used sexual innuendo to rebuff her requests for an interview. "You'll just have to come out here and live with me," he is quoted as saying. "That's the only way I'll do it."
Quinn never did interview Brzezinski. Instead, she pieced her story together from talks with some 50 of his friends and associates. He was depicted as a publicity hound consumed by his ambition to become Secretary of State—and more. "He likes to talk of himself as a sex symbol, to speak of the 'aphrodisiac of power,' " Quinn wrote. In one vignette, Brzezinski is described as boogeying lustily at a Washington disco, looking faintly ridiculous and "flirting with 16-year-olds." Quinn elsewhere describes him as a man "constantly torn between the thrill of making headlines and the risk of making a fool of himself."
It was a possibly believable, if unflattering, picture of the National Security Adviser—until the final paragraphs of the first installment, when Quinn related the zipper incident. She first heard of that encounter a year ago from Clare Crawford, a former Post staffer who is now a PEOPLE Magazine Washington correspondent. Crawford had just received from Brzezinski an autographed picture taken after she interviewed him for PEOPLE. At Crawford's office, says Quinn, she thought she saw a photo that showed Brzezinski unzipping his pants. Though hazy on details, Quinn now says that she heard someone say that this was indeed what Brzezinski had done. Before Quinn's series went to press, the Post tried unsuccessfully to get the wording of Brzezinski's inscription on the picture, but the paper evidently made no further attempt to verify the episode. read on ...
I didn't realize until now that Maureen Dowd learned everything she knows from Sally Quin. It's as if all the pieces of the puzzle have come together.
And I don't think we need to look any further to figure out why every White House since Carter has actively ignored her, do you?