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White House Crashers Need Dose of Reality — Behind Bars

November 30, 2009
By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

The Secret Service is embarrassed.

The public is astounded.

And how about the couple who engaged in the serious act that undermined national security?

They’ve apparently “agented up” and reportedly are shopping their first TV interview in search of the big bucks.

White House security isn’t pleased with its performance, which allowed Michaele and Tareq Salahi to con their way past the checkpoint at the Obama administration’s first state dinner.

The Salahis weren’t on the guest list. The Secret Service issued a rare apology for the security breakdown.

Now the prospective reality show stars have canceled a scheduled interview with Larry King, and they are seeking to obtain a six-figure fee for a media appearance.

The Salahis told networks to “get their bids in” if they were interested in the gate-crashing couple, an unidentified TV exec told the Associated Press.

The Salahis actually were trying to become cast members on “The Real Housewives of D.C.” Folks from Bravo were apparently at their side at the event, and they had a bit of an entourage with them, too.

Brian Williams told NBC News, "What attracted our attention was there was at least one camera trailing them, and a make-up woman got out and fixed the woman's hair and started powdering the man's forehead. My wife and I thought that was strange for people who were dressed like state dinner guests."

In addition to agents, though, the Salahis might think about hiring some defense lawyers. An investigation into possible criminal behavior is ongoing and, in a rare show of bipartisanship these days, two senators have urged the pursuit of criminal charges against the couple.

The concern, of course, is that any individual would be able to get past security and into such close proximity to President Obama and Vice President Biden.

Sens. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., agree on throwing the proverbial book at the Salahis because such behavior must be deterred.

"These folks could be like the — what is the name, Richard Reid, who changed the way everybody travels through the airports because of this one guy. This couple may change the way people go to the White House," Bayh told "Fox News Sunday."

"I'm kind of wondering what I'm going to be facing to get into the White House this time. It's probably going to be a lot stricter than it has been," Bayh said.

"If it's a federal crime to lie to a federal agent, and these people didn't tell the truth about their invitation, then they should be in some way brought to justice here, again, as an example to others not to do it," Kyl said.

Unfortunately, news reports have been filled with similar incidents that relate to exploitation of events in order to snag some fame. Reality programs consistently turn out instant celebrities. But today’s batch of would-be reality stars have more competition than they did in the past and may feel as though extraordinary measures are needed to get noticed.

Jon and Kate Gosselin became mega-stars when their reality show, which let the public eavesdrop into the way the couple handled their eight children, became a hit.

Nadya Suleman, a.k.a. the “Octomom,” used her sizable family to procure a reality special.

Richard Heene made headline news with the claim that his 6-year-old son, Falcon, had been carried away in the family's homemade helium balloon. The "Balloon Boy" story turned out to be a hoax to gain attention for what else: a potential reality show.

The White House crashers apparently thought they would up the reality show ante. But they may be about to find out how far is too far.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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