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Post Salahi coverage draws heavy online traffic

By Andy Alexander

There was plenty of reaction to Sunday’s ombudsman’s column defending The Post’s coverage of publicity-hungry Tareq and Michaele Salahi, who gained fame late last year for crashing a White House state dinner. Most online commenters disagreed, arguing The Post has written too much about the couple. And more than 30 other readers -- all but two from the Washington area -- e-mailed or called to protest continuing coverage.

But traffic data from The Post’s Web site suggest fascination with the Salahis. Much of it is from outside the Washington area, indicating national interest in the exploits of the local couple.

Since the White House security breach around Thanksgiving, content about the Salahis on The Post’s Web site has received more than five million page views. One story that explored the backgrounds of the couple was the third most-viewed article on the Post’s Web site in the six month period after the initial reports that the Salahis had attended the state dinner without an invitation.

Through the end of last year, nearly 80 percent of the page views for Salahi-related content came from those outside the Washington area. Since the beginning of this year, the proportion has remained high, with close to two-thirds of the page views coming from beyond Washington.

But those traffic numbers are not likely to convince those who contacted me. In almost each case, they said they detested the Salahis as publicity-seeking egomaniacs. And they also rebuked The Post for giving them media exposure.

Answering the question posed in the print and online headline on my column (“How much Salahi news is too much?”), a reader from Annapolis e-mailed: “ANY ‘news’ of these 2 egomaniacal fools is too much.” He said the Salahis, “two of the most useless, shallow human beings on the planet, are making absolute fools of The Post.”

A reader from Herndon wrote that Post editors should “completely re-think their ideas about coverage for those two publicity hounds.” He added: “It’s pathetic that they have the Post in their publicity seeking grasp.”

And there was this from Gaithersburg: “The Salahis are disgusting nouveau riche and don’t fit into the real social scene any more than the fake designer watches and jewelry they wear.” The reader, responding to my contention that there’s a place for Salahi coverage in The Post, agreed: “It’s in the comics section.”

But not everyone has had it with the Salahis. Post reader Joe Keyerleber, who lives in the District, e-mailed Thursday morning: “I take my news very seriously, but on the other hand the Salahis are fascinating and interesting, so I am glad the newspaper is keeping up with them, in spite of the griping.”

By Andy Alexander  | July 1, 2010; 4:08 PM ET
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Next: Post online strategy: Grow audience, and engagement


I don't frankly know if there is any "right" answer, much like people gawking at a train wreck. On the one hand, you want to turn away, on the other, you can't help but look.

With regard to the Salahis, I think 99.999% of people tend to cringe at the thought of them getting any free publicity, good or bad, short of photos of their "perp walk" to prison.

But then again, there are so many judgment creditors and so many people who went unpaid by the Salahis or their various business enterprises or their so-called "charitable foundation", that there is a very real public service to be achieved by keeping the media spotlight on that pair of apparent grifters. So long as the Salahis pursue their apparent pathological desire for attention, I, for one, while I do tend to cringe, don't have a problem with the Post continuing to publish articles critical of their statements, bona fides, etc., which paints them in a not-too-desireable light, as all of those articles have to date.

In that regard, it may serve as a valuable lesson to all of us as to what NOT to aspire to.

I suppose this is another example of the eternal conundrum of "damned if you do and damned if you don't."

Just my opinions.

Posted by: LAWPOOL | July 1, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

America love's the Salahi coverage.

Jen, Sheryl and I can't wait for the show!

The Washington Post writes about them becasue we all love following their lives.

There will always be a few odd ones who are jealous and have envy and hate.

Posted by: lisag1 | July 1, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

America love's the Salahi coverage.

Jen, Sheryl and I can't wait for the show!

The Washington Post writes about them becasue we all love following their lives.

There will always be a few odd ones who are jealous and have envy and hate.

Posted by: lisag1 | July 1, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Michaele Salahi posts on her facebook page that she is the star of the show and it is the most anticipated show ever. Tell her what you think.
Join our Facebook page: Tell the White House Party Crashers to Go Away

Posted by: seraphina2 | July 2, 2010 12:47 AM | Report abuse

For the unknowing here, "lisag1" is Michaele a/k/a Missy Salahi. She is the only one that ever posts positive comments. You might also see her post as "Sussng" or "SusanMorgan" with regard to this or other articles about the Salahis.

Her obvious pathological need for attention and validation, even to the extent of complimenting herself online, just makes her and her husband's White House escapade, in retrospect, all the more troubling and serious.

My Opinions.

Posted by: LAWPOOL | July 2, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: lostinthemiddle | July 3, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Is there ever a time that the ombudsman functions as a true reader's representative rather than a sniveling apologist for the paper?

Posted by: dailykos3 | July 3, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

It is so funny that this girl is so obsessed with Michaele Salahi.

"lawpool" right we all know who you are. get a life and let go of your obsession over her. It is scary really.

We all love you Michaele and there will always be the jealous ones who are obsessed with you. Funny on another blog she did the same thing and thought Kristine was fake. She is scary.

can't wait for the show!

Posted by: lisag1 | July 5, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

lisag1 (Molly Holt) - we all love following their lives, just because everyone loves seeing fakes exposed for what they are. How do you explain you being busted for claiming to be a Redskins cheerleader?

Posted by: growler55 | July 6, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Missy, your dream was to marry a rich guy, so you in a way are one of the many scammed by Tareq (even though you now enable his small-time scams). But his biggest con was convincing you he was actually rich, right?

Posted by: growler55 | July 6, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

So, the Post is happy to report on the Salahis, but not on Justice dropping the Black Panther case or the NASA chief saying his top priority is Muslim outreach.

What a great NEWSpaper!

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | July 7, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

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