Updated after the jump
Last week, The New York Post came out with an incendiary item about the high-flying socialite (and New York Observer Gatsbaby) Tabber Benedict, who had allegedly thrown himself a “going-away” party at Number 8 on the night before he was actually due to be sentenced in court for his 2011 DUI.
But according to the gossip site Scallywag & Vagabond, the attack might have been more personal than just a good tip from Justin Ross Lee…and that the Post‘s author, Tara Palmeri, had it out for Mr. Benedict for another reason.
According to Benedict, he first met Palmeri when she was seated in his chair at Blue Horizon’s June 2012 Charity Gala. Benedict, who was a committee member for the charity, asked Palmeri to kindly get out of his seat, as cocktail hour concluded and dinner was about to be served – unaware that this request sent Palmeri running out of the gala, distraught and embarrassed.
It seems Palmeri had crashed the benefit (?) and sat in an empty chair, not realizing it was assigned to Benedict. Justin Ross Lee, a friend to both Benedict and Palmeri, later told Benedict that he had upset Palmeri. (Interestingly, Lee is the only person other than the victim who is quoted in Palmeri’s NY Post article. Is he the anonymous source mouthing off that Benedict was off to Europe for a long holiday? )
The sourcing for this pro-Benedict story is obviously the jailed attorney himself, who even gave up an old email where he apologized to Palmeri for taking his seat. (Which in itself smacks of incestuous obligations: Why else would a socialite bother with a long apology to a New York Post writer, if the writer was obviously in the wrong?)
Mr. Lee, who has never met a publication he wouldn’t like to give a quote to, is accused of colluding with Ms. Palmeri for her hit piece on Benedict. He openly admitted his intentions on bringing his former friend down to Scalleywag:
Anonymous: “Did you quote that to the Post?”
Justin: “Did he tip them off last year to my Chapter 7 filing… He was a snake to me. You bet your ass that’s my quote.”
Anonymous: “I didn’t know that.”
Justin: “Nor did I until about 3 weeks ago. What he did was unspeakable. The ultimate betrayal after I confided in him. He should thank me for being so kind when they asked for my comment.”
Anonymous: “How did you know he said it? The Post told you? It’s public record when you file.”
Justin: “I’m well aware it’s public…a little birdy told me.”
Benedict also insinuated that Lee wasn’t even at the party, by letting it slip that he had black-listed his former buddy from the door list. But even if Benedict could prove that Palmeri and Lee worked together to besmirch his good name, there’s still the tiny matter of the story itself–where Benedict held a party on the night before he went to court–being true. Of course, Benedict/Scallywag claim that the anonymous quotes from the Post article are all fake or were made up by Lee, and point to the fact that Palmeri messed up the name of the nightclub and called in Bungalow 8 instead of Number 8 to prove that the party in question never existed. (Which, to be fair, we’ve also confused several times.) The party in question, according to Mr. Benedict, was a benefit his friend had previously asked him to lend his good name for.
What are we to take away from this story? Well, not much, except that Benedict must have a pretty nice setup at Suffolk County Correctional Facility…one with a pretty incredible WiFi situation and a lot of free time to peruse old emails about seating arrangements.
Update: Justin Ross Lee responded to The Observer regarding the Scallywag post, saying, “A blogger’s a journalist like Tabber’s a motorist. Those quotes were blogged by a disgruntled felon blogging longhand from a felon from a jail cell to clear whatever’s left of his tarnished name.”
“Tabber’s action reflect poorly on the pride of the few remaining Gatsbabies,” Mr. Lee said. “He should stop worrying about playing publicist and start reflecting on why he’s in prison.”