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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reality Show At the White House



Just when you thought you had witnessed the most perverted, greedy reality show stunt with the whole "Balloon Boy" incident, another potentially more dangerous caper appears. By now, everyone on the planet with an eye on the news has been exposed to the exploits of Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the couple who crashed the White House state dinner, the most exclusive party in Washington, D.C., if not the world.

What the Crashers Were Able To Do

The Salahis passed through the same security checkpoints as invited guests -- and even met Obama in the receiving line, a White House official told Fox News -- but they were never threat to Obama, the Secret Service has said. (FOXNews.com, November 27 2009)

Edwin Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, said the couple went through the same security screening used for other invited guests. Donovan said the officers at the checkpoint did not follow proper procedure when the Salahis arrived and when it was determined they had not been invited. He declined to reveal the levels of security screening at the White House, and he would not comment on how long they were on the White House grounds or any other details of the investigation. (www.huffingtonpost.com, November 27 2009)

What were the Salahis able to accomplish at the White House? They managed not only to pass through the Secret Service security checkpoint but also to snap photos with dozens of high-profile attendees, including Vice President Joe Biden, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and CBS News anchor Katie Couric. They left the 300+ event before dinner was served.


  
More Information Comes To Light


Reporters have found evidence that Michaele Salahi is claiming (1) that she was a former NFL cheerleader, (2) that she once modeled for Victoria's Secret, and (3) that she could be seen in top fashion and women's magazines. All of Sahahi's claims have been denied by the parties involved. Her resume as a Virginia socialite is looking more and more like a fantasy. She even claims she was a former Miss U.S.A. (unconfirmed)

Meanwhile, the couple's attorney, Paul Gardner, says the Salahis were authorized to attend Tuesday's star-studded event honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but Gardner didn't elaborate. "My clients were cleared, by the White House, to be there," attorney Paul Gardner said. "More information is forthcoming." (FOXNews.com, November 27 2009)

And, further inquiries have led to the discovery that Michaele Salahi had reportedly auditioned for the Bravo reality TV show "Real Housewives of D.C."

According to Samuel Goldsmith (New York Daily News, November 25 2009), Bravo had announced in May that the "Real Housewives" program's next stop would be Washington and they would be "scouting the D.C. area to identify...women who have their pulse on the most important cultural events, political galas, gallery openings and fund-raisers in Washington society."
 


NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who was an invited guest at the dinner, told the "Today" show that he saw the couple's SUV being turned away from the White House's East Gate entrance, adding, “Actually the first ring of Secret Service security had worked. After their vehicle was turned away, they hopped out.” He confirmed that he had seen the camera crew and makeup artist accompanying the Salahis. (Helene Cooper and Brian Stelter, The New York Times, November 26 2009)

The Aftermath

James Hohmann (Washington Post, November 29 2009) reported, "The Virginia socialites who apparently crashed the White House state dinner last week remained elusive Saturday, as reports surfaced that the aspiring reality-TV stars were trying to sell their story for hundreds of thousands of dollars and CNN said the couple's upcoming appearance on "Larry King Live" had been cancelled.

The Associated Press said that Tareq and Michaele Salahi were offering to talk to broadcast networks about their experiences while looking for a payment in the mid-six figures range. This information was attributed to a television executive it did not name. According to the report, representatives for the couple contacted networks to urge them to "get their bids in" for an interview.

"They are asking for best offers from all the networks," The New York Times said. Network news divisions generally do not pay for interviews. CNN reported the couple's appearance on Monday had been canceled after producers were told that the Salahis were postponing.

Edmund L. Andrews and Brian Stelter (The New York Times, November 28 2009) discovered that for years, the Salahis have publicized their own adventures in the social and sporting scenes of Washington and its outlying horse country. They have left behind a record of lawsuits and unpaid bills. The couple had suffered the bankruptcy of the family vineyard after extended litigation between Mr. Salahi and his parents.

Even the upscale salon where Mrs. Salahi, with TV cameras in tow, was prepared for the big event had never been paid for its previous services in 2002, when the couple were married, the salon’s operators said in interviews. (The New York Times, November 28 2009)


 
And the Rumor Mill

Another unconfirmed theory on the Salahis' ability to crash the dinner came from gawker.com. Arun K. Singh, Deputy Chief of Mission for the Indian Embassy, may have invited the Salahis to the dinner as a reward for their work on the India Vs. U.S. polo match organized by Tareq Salahi and co-sponsored by Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar.

In an article in the October edition of the Indian Embassy's newsletter, Michaele Salahi is quoted as saying the match "aspires to bring the love of the game to a wider audience and bring international cultures together..." It seems that the Singh/Salahi polo connection has deep ties.



And in an astounding article, Judi McLeod (canadafreepress.com, November 28 2009) reported, "While the big gun media and American Secret Service are out there investigating “party crashers,” Tareq and Michaele Salahi, no one’s telling the truth: Obama knew the Salahis when he was still an Illinois senator...We do know for a fact that among the slew of memberships on charitable boards, Tareq Salahi is a former member of The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP)." McLeod claims the relationship between President Obama and the Salahis is five years old.

Conclusion

Here is the bottom line. A leggy, attractive blonde (aided by an aspiring assistant) obsessed with being the center of the spotlight could have put the President in real harm's way. Should the Secret Service now be as concerned with glitz and glam as bullets and bombs? I feel terrible about the Keystone Kops breach of security; however, I feel offended by the reality-show mentality of those who wish to abuse trust for big bucks. Let's see what penalties, if any, are accessed for such selfish actions.


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