In any city, the Real Housewives series is sure to shock and awe. The show’s concept is simple: recruit incredibly wealthy women and follow them around as they prance about in five-inch heels with their tiny dogs from tanning salon to nail salon. The popular Bravo franchise has had any number of astonishing moments, from when Beverly Hills housewife Camille Grammer split with famous hubby Kelsey Grammer to when New Jersey’s Teresa Giudice got so mad she flipped a table over. But it was Tareq and Michaele Salahi in Washington, D.C., who created an especially large media frenzy in November 2009 when they finessed their way into President Barack Obama’s first state dinner.
Crashing the party (to which they maintain they were invited) wasn’t the worst of it: the couple, known forever after as the White House gate-crashers, were being filmed for the show. In the episode that aired Sept. 30, 2010, the couple is seen in a limo en route to the state dinner, with Michaele dressed in a traditional Indian sari (the dinner was for India’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh). The cameras do not follow the Salahis inside the party, but the next morning they recount their night and discuss meeting Obama and taking photos with Vice President Joe Biden and then White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. The White House issued a statement that the Salahis were neither invited to nor seated for the dinner, but the truth may never be known. In their testimony before a House committee looking into White House security protocols, Tareq and Michaele took the Fifth.