The so-called White House gate-crashers, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, have been unfairly portrayed in the media and aren’t even interlopers, a reporter who’s shopping a book about the couple said Thursday.
“As an investigative reporter and somebody who covered the White House, I never bought this stuff that they crashed the gate,” reporter and author Diane Dimond told TODAYshow.com. “I think these people got a raw deal, and it started early on when they were dubbed the White House gate-crashers.”
Dimond, a former White House correspondent, confirmed that she has a proposal for a book, tentatively titled “Wine, War and Roses: The Story of Tareq and Michaele Salahi.” The book is being shopped by respected literary agent Sharlene Martin, who has represented a number of best-sellers, including Jane Velez-Mitchell’s “iWant,” Mary Jo Buttafuoco’s “Getting It Through My Thick Skull” and Suzanne Hansen's “You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again.”
“I’m greatly intrigued” by the story, Dimond said. “I just don’t believe they crashed the gate. I believe there was a real systematic breakdown of political operatives.”
Dimond said she believes the trail of how the Salahis got into the event leads to the White House.
The uninvitedThe Salahis were known in Washington as socialites and the owners of a noted winery when they showed up last November at a state dinner for the prime minister of India. The couple were formally announced in the receiving line and took pictures with several notables, including Vice President Joe Biden.
The couple have consistently claimed they were invited to the event, even though their names weren’t on the guest list and they weren’t seated for dinner. The apparent breach of security led to a Congressional investigation, during which the Salahis were portrayed as social climbers and aspiring reality show subjects. White House social secretary Desiree Rogers was forced to resign in the wake of the incident.
The Salahis confirmed that they are working closely with Dimond on the proposed book. They said the book will go back over the 10 years of their married life and address the ugly battle over the family winery and Michaele’s health issues along with the couple’s behind-the-scenes involvement in Washington, D.C., life.
The couple said the book will also reveal previously undisclosed evidence and documents that will prove that they did not crash the state dinner and were, in fact, invited guests.
“A lot of people don‘t know who Tareq and I are,” Michaele said. “They think we’re social climbers who’ve climbed out of nowhere. We’ve been quiet about our lives the last 10 years. We’ve supported a lot of the powerful people you see, and played a big part in the moving and shaking of D.C., as well as the world.”
“Prior to Nov. 24, the Salahis were always very active behind the scenes,” Tareq added.
Sticking togetherIn March 2009, Michaele said she was chosen by Bravo to be one of the cast members of “The Real Housewives of Washington, D.C.,” an extension of the cable network’s popular “Real Housewives” reality-TV franchise. Camera crews filming the show were with the couple when they went to the state dinner in November, although the Salahis only recently were allowed to confirm that Michaele is part of the “Real Housewives” cast.
“We were at the end of filming,” she told TODAYshow.com.
The Salahis freely admitted that they have had very public and embarrassing problems with family and their winery, but they said all the attacks and negative publicity have brought them closer together and made them stronger.
“We’ve stuck together, hand in hand,” Tareq said. “This experience has brought us closer, made us stronger.”
“You can get through whatever adversity if you know who you are and stay strong, hand in hand,” Michaele added, saying that an experience such as theirs can either break a couple apart or make it stronger. “You could easily want to walk away from each other. No matter how tough it gets, as a couple you can stick together. You can stay strong.”
Thrown to the wolves?On June 13, the Salahis hosted an India-U.S.A. polo challenge match on the mall in Washington, D.C. The America’s Polo Cup event was founded by the Salahis.
This year’s event had no official government sponsorship from either India or the United States, according to The Washington Post, which also reported that the event had no official sponsor, either.
Dimond posted pictures of herself with the Salahis at a recent cocktail party in New York on her Facebook page. “Most of the media calls them ‘the White House party crashers.’ I think that does them a disservice,” Dimond wrote. “Tareq and Michaele Salahi are wonderful people who, I believe, really thought they were invited to the White House state dinner. After the White House mistake they got thrown to the wolves. Not fair.”
The story, Dimond told The New York Post, has “genuine intrigue.”
Perhaps best known for her reporting on Michael Jackson’s sexual molestation trial in 2003, Dimond has worked for NPR, “Hard Copy,” “Extra,” CNBC, MSNBC, “Entertainment Tonight” and Court TV. She maintains a blog on The Daily Beast website and contributes to The Huffington Post.