On Nov. 3, 1978 -- nine months before the owners of Studio 54 made their cocaine-sniffing allegations against Hamilton Jordan -- Jordan was warned that Jan Tyler, his date at the New York disco that night, was making "indiscreet" statements about the "wild" time they had together.
Jordan, when he received the warning, was having dinner at Elaine's with a group that included White House aide Tom Beard and a longtime friend of Beard's, publicist Bobby Zarem.
Zarem was then the employer of Jan Tyler, the 29-year-old, blond, former Carter campaign worker who had moved to two different jobs in New York with recommendations from White House insiders.
Zarem told The Washington Post last week that he took the opportunity during dinner that night to relate to Jordan an account of the Studio 54 party that Zarem claims Tyler had confided to him "almost the first day after she came to work for me."
Zarem says Tyler joined his staff "the first week in July."
Tyler and Jordan had been at Studio 54 on the evening of June 27, 1978. Three days later, she left a job at Penthouse magazine that Jordan had helped her obtain. Zarem says that he put her on his payroll on the recommendation of White House media expert Jerry Rafshoon, a close friend of Jordan's.
[Rafshoon said yesterday that, as he recalls, he did not get her the job with Zarem. He wrote a letter of recommendation, he said, but thought it was to NBC, not Zarem.]
"She came into my office and started telling me about this wild party she had been to with Ham which ended up at the Essex House or the Hampshire House, I can't remember," says Zarem. "I told her that, A: I didn't want to hear about her private life . . . and B: I didn't want to hear particularly when such details related to friends of mine, and C: I did not consider it professional to go around boasting of such things."
Zarem said she had described it to him as "a wild party."
Zarem says that when he had occasion to relay to Jordan what Tyler had said, Zarem made it clear that he was not planning to keep her on his staff much longer.
Zarem said that Tyler "was not working out as expected." Zarem let her go in December.
A White House press spokesman took questions for Jordan about Tyler yesterday, but said he was not sure how much luck he would have getting answers with "everything that's going on here today."
Tom Beard, in the meantime, says that he was aware that Tyler was "Ham's date" at Studio 54 that night in June. But he said he had not heard Zarem warn Jordan about her during dinner at Elaine's in November.
"I was at one end of the table with six or seven people and Ham and Bobby were at the other end."
Beard says that he was not with Jordan and Tyler at Studio 54, or even in New York that night. But a good friend of his, Detroit businessman Richard Manoogian, was in the group and had tried to persuade Jordan not to go.
"He tried to talk Ham out of it," Beard says, "because he just knew somebody was going to come up and throw a pie in his face or something worse."
A lawyer for Tyler said in New York yesterday that she would have no comment on Zarem's account.