The Salahis: Love ’em or Hate ’em? NBCU Online Poll Takes Consumers’ Temperature

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There’s more evidence that Bravo is carefully calculating its next move when it comes to potential Real Housewives of Washington, D.C. stars Michaele and Tareq Salahi.

NBC Universal, parent company of Bravo, is polling consumers about perceptions of the infamous couple, who have been the subject of a raft of negative publicity since crashing President Obama’s first state dinner Nov. 24.

NBCU’s online survey questions, designed to gauge consumer perceptions of the couple, include:

What are the first words that pop into your head when you think of the White House Gate Crashers story?

How did you feel about the amount and type of coverage the White House Gate Crashers story has received? Interestingly, questions about the Salahis were preceded by questions about Mayumi and Richard Heene, the Colorado parents who claimed that their 6-year-old son Falcon was adrift in a homemade helium balloon. Media reports have likened the publicity-hungry Salahis to the Heenes in their mutual quest for reality television stardom. The Salahis maintain a very active Facebook page where they uploaded pictures of themselves at the state dinner with various administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.The Heenes recently pleaded guilty to lying to authorities. They received probation.The Salahis are the subject of a federal investigation. A Congressional committee voted to subpoena the couple for a Jan. 20 hearing on Capitol Hill. But their lawyer has said that they will invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Additionally, 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.A Bravo executive recently conceded that while the couple has certainly raised the profile of the network’s docu-soap franchise, causing “deep embarrassment” to the White House may just be the kind of publicity that Bravo could do without.

President Obama told Steve Kroft in a Dec. 13 60 Minutes interview that he was angry at the “screwup” that allowed the Salahis to gain entry into the White House and shake his hand in the receiving line. “[I’m] unhappy with everybody who was involved in the process,” Obama said, because “although I chafe at being in the bubble, I also want to make sure my family is safe. It won’t happen again.”

The NBCU consumer survey also included a section asking users to indicate how strongly they agree or disagree with a series of statements regarding the Salahis. These include:

Featuring this couple on a reality show would be rewarding their actions.

If they are on a reality show, I hope no one watches.

They would make great “love to hate” characters on a reality show.

They are train wreck characters who I would love to see more of.

Michaele Salahi is great eye candy.

One of the questions in this section hinted at a heretofore unmentioned scenario:

If a network gave them their own reality show, it would negatively influence my opinion of that network. (Emphasis added.)

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