The story of alleged White House party crashers Michaele and Tareq Salahi has become yet another aspiring-reality-TV-star-run-amok narrative. And little wonder in the wake of the Heene family’s ill-fated balloon hoax. But the litany of anti-social and even criminal behavior of reality stars dates back to the inception of the genre. Richard Hatch anyone?
Bravo executives now find themselves under the media microscope for the behavior of (potential) reality show cast members, but that comes with the territory. The Secret Service’s territory is making sure that anyone who gets within a hair’s breadth of the President of the United States is fully vetted. So perhaps we should thank the media-obsessed Salahis for inadvertently exposing just how easy it is to sneak into the White House and shake hands with the president. It didn’t appear any more difficult than transgressing the velvet rope at a night club opening. But what if the uninvited guests weren’t mere social climbers? What if they had sinister intentions?
The Secret Service has said it is conducting an internal review. And the White House has expressed its support (at least publicly). But the question remains: will anyone lose their job?
President Obama has received an unprecedented number of threats. When Obama was in New York last summer to speak at Walter Cronkite’s memorial at Avery Fisher Hall, security was understandably tight. Former president Bill Clinton was also there. The list of invited guests was duly checked and guards wore latex gloves as they thoroughly search bags. I had a peach in my handbag. It was confiscated. A promise not to throw the fruit at anyone on stage was greeted with a steely stare.
Critics who say Bravo should take the high road and resist rewarding the Salahis with an even bigger platform on The Real Housewives of D.C. are missing the point. Reality television serves up appalling behavior because that’s what viewers watch.
Yesterday, Gawker turned up what appears to be photographic evidence that makes Michaele Salahi’s inclusion on the show a fait accompli. Of course, if the feds bring charges against the Salahis for lying to White House security, all bets are off.
A Bravo spokesperson reiterated that the network “has not announced the cast yet” adding that Michaele Salahi “is one of a handful of women that we have been documenting and filming.”
The show is targeted to bow in 2010. The Salahis’ 15 minutes may be just beginning.
UPDATE: The Secret Service says agents who manned the checkpoint through which the Salahis were allowed entry into the Nov. 24 White House state dinner have been placed on administrative leave and could be fired. The couple declined to testify before a Dec. 3 Congressional hearing looking into the incident. Additionally, the Virginia authorities are investigating the Salahis company America’s Polo Cup, which holds a yearly match and gala to raise funds for their charitable organization.