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Salahis take to TV to talk about latest state dinner run-in

UPDATED, later Tuesday morning with MSNBC appearance

Tareq and Michaele Salahi starred in another episode of their own reality series, "The Publicity Hunters," with return guest star Matt Lauer, on NBC News's "Today" show Tuesday - this time to chuckle over the silly mistake that led the Secret Service to think they might have crashed that White House state dinner back in November, and the "unbelievable coincidence" that led the Secret Service to stop their limo last week and detain them briefly after the driver allegedly ran a red light and tried to turn into a restricted area very close to where the White House was holding its SECOND state dinner.

"Accused party crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi told NBC News it was just "an unbelievable coincidence" that they were so close to the White House," Voiceover Matt says, setting up this week's episode.

"They were accompanied by a camera crew from 'Inside Edition," and told authorities they were on their way to a nearby restaurant for a dinner party with friends.

Voiceover Matt notes that while NBC's sister cable network, Bravo has not officially announced the Salahis are part of the cast, it's "been widely reported" they will be part of Bravo's upcoming "The Real Housewives of D.C." Apparently Matt's not allowed to do any actual reporting for this piece.

"On the night of the second Obama administration state dinner you're in a limo," Actual Matt begins to question the Salahis.

"That limo runs a red light -- tries to make an illegal turn into the Ellipse, which is directly adjacent to the White're stopped by Secret Service uniformed officers and detained for a little while. And, in the limo with you is a camera crew. Why?"

"We were doing a lifestyle report," Michaele explains, adding, "We've done those over the last decade - quite a bit."

"More recently, for a lot of activities that are surrounding us that we're involved with," Tareq adds, cryptically.

"Cynics out there are saying, 'Here Come the Salahis!'," Matt jumps in.

We have officially re-named the Salahi's reality show, effective immediately. It is now called, "Here Come the Salahis!"

"'They want to get close to the White House again with a camera crew!'," Matt continues, speaking for Cynics. "'They want that photo op standing in front of the gate of the White House on the night of the second state dinner!' You would say?"

Not true, the Salahis say with gusto. "Even our attorneys were at the dinner party - they came down when we got stopped," Tareq says, ominously. Matt takes note.

And, chimes in Michaele, seated in the front seat of the limo, with the driver, was a representative of the Virginia Tourism Corporation!

This is enough to convince Matt.

Matt remembers the Salahis had promised back in December that they would come back on the show to present him with evidence that would "completely exonerate" them of allegations they crashed that first state dinner.

"What is the most significant piece of evidence you can share with me right now that clears you in that case?" he asked.

They chat about a phone conference call and eventually Matt acknowledges the Salahis did, before their on-air appearance, cough up an affidavit pertaining to a phone conference call - which, Matt notes, he does not have on him at this moment for us to see.

Too bad.

"Can I say the name of the person on that conference call?" Matt asks. "It was [special assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates] Michele Jones - your contact within the Pentagon and your contact within the Obama administration."

Does the document prove the alleged dinner crashing was "all just a big mis-understanding?" Matt asks, which is odd since it appears he's, you know, seen the document.

"It's been a series of misunderstandings," Michaele smiles prettily.

Though their presence at the Obama's first state dinner in November is still under investigation, the Salahis tell Matt they know the White House now also thinks it was all a big misunderstanding, because of what happened at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

"Recently we saw the Vice President Biden and President Obama speak at the correspondents dinner and joked about us. That's why we decided to come today," Michaele explains. "We thought, 'If they can joke about a us, maybe it's time for everyone to move forward'."

Matt moves on to reports that when Michaele was at a salon getting gussied up for her infamous appearance at that White House dinner, "somebody asked to see your invitation and you said 'it's in the car'. In truth there was no invitation. You were never in possession of -- so Why did you say that?" Matt begins to grill Michaele.

"You know, I was asked to say that, to go along with something," Michaele explains.

"Asked by WHO to say that?" Matt continues to bore down with the tough questions.

"You'll have to wait and see," she replies, coyly.

"But who told you to say something that wasn't true - that would be important!" Matt persists.

"That is a very good point - let's talk about a that for a second," Taraq jumps in, coming to his wife's rescue. "I was witness to that and that was something that took about 10 or 12 different shots to take that day."

"So there were cameras there, cameras weren't just reporting candid conversations - it was SCRIPTED?!" Matt asks, going in the for kill.

"I asked her, 'Why are you asking me?' I would never even share," Michaele begins to explain to Matt.

"You asked who?" Matt snaps.

"The hairstylist - 'Why are you asking that?'."

The hairstylist's response, as reported by Michaele: "I'm sorry Michaele, I'm being told to ask you this."

"By?" Matt barks.

"The producer," Tareq finally confesses.

"So you're leaving open more questions than you're answering on this -- you realize that?" Matt says, his eyes glowing with journalism school fervor.

"It was producers," Michaele wails, "They had told us."

"We both signed NDA's with That Organization," Tareq says, without explaining who That Organization is. As if it wasn't obvious!

"Non-disclosure agreements," Matt explains for all you non-pros out there.

"We're not allowed to talk about a lot of things that happened," Tareq adds sorrowfully.

We're not sure why, but at this point Lauer notes Bravo has not confirmed - but there is a lot of speculation they will be part of "The Real Housewives of D.C." which Bravo has already shot in our fair city, including loads of footage of the Salahis, in their limos, at parties, at hair salons. Just sayin'.

"Are you part of that cast?" Matt asks. Oh, great - NOW he gets to do some reporting!

"I love the Housewives and if they're doing the show, I'll watch" Michaele simpers.

"Is that at all related to these areas we seem to be hedging?" Matt asks.

"We're prohibited - not allowed to talk about things about the series," Tareq says.

"Which sets us up for round three," Matt giggles.

"Thank you!" Michaele gushes, reaching out and clasping Matt's hand with both her hands.

Act II of "Here Come the Salahis!" sees the pretty couple moved to NBC-owned MSNBC cable news network.

"We certainly want to apologize to the President and First Lady that the media has taken such an interest in us," Michaele tells anchor Lynn Berry.

Berry, who's a whirling dervish compared to Matt, cuts her off:

"Most people, when they're invited to a party, the proof would be the invitation in hand. You didn't have that," she barks at the Salahis.

"If you don't have an invitation in hand, why do you show up?"

"I don't know if you attend many fundraisers, but you don't walk in with your invitation," Michaele sniffs back.

Undaunted, our plucky Berry moves on to last week's limo pull-over the night of the second state dinner:

"Can you imagone how people are suspicious?" Berry asks the couple, rhetorically.

"Washington D.C. is a small city, as you know," Tareq explains. "To get. to any nice restaurant in Washington you've really got to drive by the White House, or on Constitution Avenur or up 17th and I [St.] - that's where all the nice restaurants are.... yes, the restaurant is blocks away, but all the nice restaurants are blocks away from the White House.

Here's the Salahi's "Today" show interview:

By Lisa de Moraes  |  May 25, 2010; 10:24 AM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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You should have a poll that asks who is more pathetic, the Salahi's or the people who breathlessly report on it like it matters.

Posted by: mjwies11 | May 25, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Dear Washington Post,

I would greatly appreciate it if you would please increase your coverage of the Salahis. There are some days that I don't know what they have said or what they are doing. I am especially interested in their thoughts about Lindsey Lohan. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Posted by: KeithW2 | May 25, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I think Michaele is a genius compared to Sarah Palin, and I would like to see them pair off in a national debate for the Republican presidential nomination in '12.

Posted by: usblues1 | May 25, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Oh, yes! I echo KeithW2's request. We just cannot get enough of the fine upstanding Salahai's. They are just a shinning example of good people. I especially like to hear about their adventures in courtrooms, where they spend almost as much of their time as anywhere else.

Posted by: turboalto1 | May 25, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Mere coincidence, I suppose, that this breaking, earth-shattering and exclusive interview on The Today Show, owned and produced by NBC Universal, features this couple apparently under contract with Bravo, which, [Surprise!], also in owned by NBC Universal.

Curiously absent from this latest advertisement [sorry, I meant to say "interview"], I find, was the one question asked by Mr. Lauer in their first interview on The Today Show six months ago; that is, "You're not getting paid by anyone for this interview, correct?"

I think the silence of that potentially obvious inquiry today speaks volumes.

I'm not quite sure who is more pathetic, this attention-seeking wannabe 'reality' TV erst-while 'socialite' couple; or the producers and staff of The Today Show for prostituting themselves in such an obvious fashion.

Despite Mr. Lauer's superficial attempt to appear as if he was "grilling" this couple, it really was quite obvious it was, for the most part, largely scripted.

Posted by: LAWPOOL | May 25, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and by the way, on the subject of paid plugs, did anyone else notice that Mr. Salahi just happened to get in the name and address of the restaurant and the name of the bar they went to afterwards?

It appeared a somewhat strained effort by him to mention those establishments, and that information really was not necessary in order to respond to the question posed.

Who wants to bet they are not looking and/or expecting compensation for those plugs?

Just a thought.

Posted by: LAWPOOL | May 25, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I officially switched off the Today Show this morning when I saw the preview for the Salahis. I'm done with Today. They're just giving those two what they want--free publicity. It's time to stop rewarding this type of behavior.

Posted by: sunny617 | May 25, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

At 7am every morning we religiously switch the TV to the -2 channel and watch the local morning news replay. So I guess I missed this.

Posted by: mdavidj | May 25, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

All the classic signs of grifters.

They are very good at what they do - when asked a question, they never provide a direct answer.

You have to hand it to them, they got on the Today show AGAIN, without any merit at all.

Posted by: postfan1 | May 25, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

"...Michaele smiles prettily."

How much willpower did it take not to write "smiles blondely"?

Posted by: jslaff | May 25, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I don't know who is more pathetic. The Salahis have no redeeming features. But the media, in this case represented by Matt Lauer, is also pathetic. Lauer has really sold himself as much as they have.

Posted by: lstrauss2 | May 25, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Get these people away from me. They make me sick and coverage of them makes me sick.

Posted by: xnewsman | May 25, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

The Salahis remind me of a quote from "As Good as it Gets."
"It's not true. Some have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car. But, a lot of people, that's their story. Good times, noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you're that pissed that so many others had it good."

In addition, this is entertainment news in the making. Sounds like Michaele is a rising star in reality television. That makes this newsworthy. Not all news is about war, famine, death, economy...

My hat's off to the WaPo for reporting all the news.

And hey, if you don't get it, then you don't get it.

Posted by: tokogasy | May 26, 2010 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Shameless PR from NBC outlets (Today, Late Night) for their upcoming Bravo show.

These people are very good con artists. The technique is to evade until it becomes embarrassing for the person asking the questions. At a certain point the person asking questions begins to appear rude, and then they change the topic. They do this again and again.

We just need to keep them away from public money and charities.

Posted by: Benson | May 26, 2010 2:01 AM | Report abuse

I live near Oasis Winery in Rappahannock County, Virginia - the winery established & owned by Tareq's parents (and not Tareq - as he would like you to believe - he was a kid when his parents planted the vines in the '70s!). It's pathetic to drive past Oasis now, the vines are dying & the place is shut. The story around here is that Tareq and his wife basically ran it into the ground by spending the winery profits to support their lifestyle instead of reinvesting (the parents are older, father suffers from dementia). What we find interesting out here is that these two are finally being exposed to the nation - a trail of lawsuits follow them plus the State of Virginia's Department of Agriculture is still investigating their non-profit organization.

One last note to the Bravo/NBC executives: Get a map! FRONT ROYAL IS IN WARREN COUNTY, VIRGINIA, AND NOT IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

Posted by: non-partisan2 | May 26, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Thire jail time is way over due.

Posted by: jjgrah | May 26, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

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