City Desk

Style Editor Ned Martel Refuses to Comment on Horrible Sally Quinn Column


The buzz around town today is all about Sally Quinn's new low, aka a column in this morning's Style section in which she explains all about a wedding-scheduling snafu in her own family.

For all of you who have substantive things to worry about, this is what the piece was about: In recent days, there've been published reports about how the columnist's son, Quinn Bradlee, is scheduled to get married on the same day as the granddaughter of Quinn's husband, Washington Post legend Ben Bradlee. So Quinn used this week's edition of her Style column, "The Party," to rebut the negativity in those reports, and to assert that even a "so-called expert" (herself, that is) on the art of entertaining can slip up now and again.

The comments section has been downright abusive, as in: "TimPage1 wrote: When the brilliant and legendary Henry Allen had a dust-up at the Post with some reporters, he referred to their article as "the second worst piece ever printed in Style." This led to a heated question on the Washingtonian blog — what was the WORST piece ever printed in Style? There's a new champion today. Unbelievable."

Another glorious takedown comes from Tom Scocca and Choire Sicha, writing on the fabulous The Awl.

Of course, TimPage1, Scocca, Sicha, and myself are punching a pretty easy target here, and perhaps a target that loves nothing more than serving as a target. But the newsworthy thing about this particular abomination is not so much just how bad the column is, how self-unaware Quinn is, or anything like that. She can be as bad as she wants to be.

The real questions are for her editor, Style editor Ned Martel, and here's just a start:

1) Mr. Martel: Is this the sort of material you envisioned when you launched the column?

2) Mr. Martel: In the column, Ms. Quinn references "tensions" within her family, yet she never explains what those tensions were. If your columnist made a passing reference to tensions within any other family, or tensions within a company, or tensions within a book club, wouldn't you demand further explanation of those tensions?

3) Mr. Martel: How is it that there was no overlap on the guest lists for the two weddings under discussion here?

4) Mr. Martel: Your columnist is using the increasingly precious space in the print edition of the Washington Post to rebut criticism aired in other media outlets. Is this something that's encouraged at the paper? If someone attacks another columnist or reporter, is that space going to be available for further rebuttals? Could you carve out some column inches just for this purpose? And why are there no links to said criticism?

5) Mr. Martel: Your columnist slimes her husband in print, saying she instructed him "to put the date [of his granddaughter's wedding] on his calendar, and he did not. A warning to wives everywhere!" Did the husband have a chance to comment for the column?

6) Mr. Martel: Did you read this column before it was published?

Alas, Mr. Martel is not going to answer those questions. After ringing him up this afternoon, here's the conversation that ensued:

I asked Martel if I could interview him about the column. He responded, "I am going to decline to comment."

I told him it's just about the column, nothing terribly sensitive: "That is the way it’s going to be."

I told him that it's generally been the case that editors at the Post speak up in defense of their journalism, and Martel said, "I am going to forward your questions to Kris Coratti." Kris Coratti is the paper's spokesperson, and the last time we checked in with her, she was declining to tell us about the various editions that the paper prints each day.

Winding down the conversation with Martel, I told him that refusing to speak about what the paper had printed "stinks."

"Oh, sorry," he responded.

Another victory for the Brauchli Doctrine!

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  • Taxi Cash

    Sally Quinn has spent decades angling, clawing, grifting and conning her way into a Norma Desmond belief in a world where she is some kind of social doyenne and arbitor. I take exception to your characterization of the comments as being "abusive". What they are is a pretty spot on and accurate reflection of the utter lack of affection and respect this community has for this woman who has so desperately sought preeminence.

    Additionally, they are pretty darn hysterical and a good read! These are not the rants of internet trolls. They are the insightful observations of those over whom Quinn would seek to have sway. No one rises to her defense.

    I'm sure you are not surprised that The Post can offer no defense of Quinn's screed. Once again, The Post should be utterly ashamed.

    You should really have someone do an in depth reality check for Quinn or perhaps it is better left to Kitty Kelley. Before Ben Bradlee lost his mind and actually married her she was really rather notorious. As was noted in the comments, imagine a past that would make the towel boy at a gay bath house blush.

  • Taxi Cash

    To wit Erik: jeff9741 wrote:
    People often ask me how to make conversation at dinner parties. I usually spin my head around five times in rotation, bare my fangs, speak in tongues for half a minute and then barf out an article for the Style section.
    2/19/2010 3:08:23 PM
    Recommended (18)

  • SoCali

    I think of Mama Sal and Ol’ Ben every time I watch my old dog gum a desiccated chicken tender.

  • Wassup

    This story is going national. This could be Sally's big break. This Piece (and the comments)is hysterical.

    1. Tuna Surprise [#573]
    Let me see if I understand this:
    The third wife of a 88 year old man wants us to believe that he voluntarily agreed not to attend his eldest granddaughter's wedding (presumably because of a feud that has nothing to do with this fine gentlewoman); therefore it's okay that she(!) scheduled the wedding of her son to a pregnant, divorcee on the same date.
    All because it's really important that this lovely couple gets married in a church.

    1. mandor [#1014]
    This would be the same Quinn Bradlee who memorably wrote about not realizing he would lose his v-card when he went to a brothel in the Carribean. And then Mama Sal demanded the prostitute take an HIV test once she found out.

  • Mark

    Lest anyone forget how Ms. Quinn gained employment at the Post and the spot in Mr. Bradlee's bed.

    Never read the words of a well-written prostitute. Never expect to read the words of a well-written prostitute.

  • Skipper

    Sally Quinn is relevant, why?

  • The Donkey

    Didn't you mean "well-ridden" prostitute? Although often ridden hard and put away wet Sally Quinn was not in the classic sense a prostitute. Certainly appreciative of the remains of a bottle of "hooch" or a doggie bag from Duke's being left on the bed table, she did not expect cash.

    Also, Sally had to wait awhile to actually drag Ol' Ben into an actual bed. It was a desk set affair.

  • Linda Blair

    Ben Bradlee's funeral is sure shaping up to be a family lovefest. After changing his diapers all these years (and happily, she thinks it is "a kick") Sally envisions herself as Nancy Reagan in that movie. Of course, thats not fair to Nancy Reagan. By all accounts she has found compassion and humility through her exeprience with President Reagan's decline and, oh, her children speak to her. Oh, and she actually was REALLY, IN REAL LIFE SALLY, First Lady.

  • mitchell owens

    This entire brouhaha has me shaking my head. The Post has gone from better to worse and the Quinn coluimn's exoistancve only proves the paper has ceased to a force for the better. What is the paper thinking? This should be Quinn's swansong. She has gone off the deep end.

  • mitchell owens

    And my spelling is atrocious.

  • Columbiana

    Her whole gimmick was that she would swallow in a day when most women wouldn't even nibble and she was really easy. Shes a 68 year old hag now.

    She has apparently cast some kind of spell over the Graham family or has something on someone. You're right though, she is mentally ill. All that hate for all those years has caught up with her. She really hates the Grahams, they are, after all, the Grahams and she is after all, not.

    Now her family must really hate her. She may have met her match in the Baby Mama. The yoga instructor must be a Mossad plant or something.

    At any rate the only way to save face now, even a little, is to sneak off quietly to the country and just get married then attend the niece's wedding. Of course Ol' Sally would have us believe that the bride's father did not invite his brother to the wedding. Its simply that no one wants Sally Quinn at their wedding. Who would?

  • Anna

    Years ago, I went to a local astrologer named Svetlana, who was Russian and mysterious and who also saw Sally Quinn. (Svetlana died in the 80s, but she'd had a column in the WaPo., thanks to Sally.)

    Anyway, Svetlana was kind of a drinker, and we used to go to the bar at the Mayflower. She told me once that Sally had an ideal chart for the perfect life, up until a certain point, and then something would go terribly wrong. Sally always thought Quinn's disabilities were a punishment for having lured Ben away from Mrs. Bradlee, and she went whole-hog for religion, karma, whatever would absolve her.

    Quinn's a nice enough guy, but I'm rather shocked he's reproducing, given the odds of his passing on his genetically-linked disability.

  • sprite

    Appreciate your attempt to get a comment from WP Style editor but, as you know, they are timorous folk over there when it comes to all things Bradlee/Quinn. In event Mr. Martel deigns to respond to your queries, could you ask him for me just who do I have to sleep with to get my own column at the Post?

  • Ca

    Do us all a favor and sleep with Katherine Weymouth. Consider it a "charity f'k"!

  • Hemingway

    With Sally Quinn as his caregiver Ben Bradlee will be lucky to end up as well as Brooke Astor.

    Erik you will follow up on this story on Monday, please!

  • Amos Humiston

    Wow... talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. Way to sock it to 'em, City Paper! Maybe you'll get a Pulitzer out of this hard-hitting report.


  • The Donkey

    I knew you were trolling these sites Sally, like a moth to a flame. Keep it up WCP!

  • Wassup

    On politico they are comparing Sally Quinn to Elena Ceaucescu, others say Quinn to Magda Goebbels.

    I tend to agree with those who suggest Blanche Dubois (or Devereaux, take your pick) and Norma Desmond.
    Ceaucescu had actual power and Goebbels some class albeit very twisted (until she too, cannibalized her own children).

  • cminus

    Quinn's article is an abomination unto the Lord and a fit rival to the previous worst thing she's ever written, that "village" piece during the Clinton impeachment kerfluffle in which she summed up everything that's wrong about Washington -- and revelled in it.

    But, fellow commenters, is it really necessary for so many of you to cast aspersions on her personal life? Mercifully, I've never had to move in her social circle, so I have no idea whether there's any truth to the slams, but you know what? I don't care. I'd rather read an interesting and well-written piece by someone whose personal life would horrify me than tripe by someone of unimpeachable probity, which is why I own the complete Hunter S. Thompson but will never buy the works of George F. Will. Just say her journalism sucks; stop dwelling on what else might suck as well.

  • Ian

    Does anyone remember the etiquette book that Ms. Quinn published in 1996?
    Pardon me BUT is Pary Williamson's ( the bride-to-be) slightly suspect?

  • sprite

    Is that Martel's picture featured? Hard-charging Style editor? Just curious. Not a bad looking guy. Not a journalist but not a bad looking guy.

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