With Thursday's first of the two-part season-ending finale focusing on the White House gate-crashing episode on Bravo's Real Housewives of DC it's time for an update -- what the Washington Post is saying about them , what Bravo is saying about them and what they're saying about each other.
(The Post accuses Bravo of time travel. Bravo says they never told the Salahis they couldn't talk about the White House State Dinner. Lynda says Michaele's MS is BS but Michaele says shame on her)
Lots of 'she said, she said' and plenty of trash talk, so join in. Even if you've missed an episode or two (or all) read the Washington Post blogs from Reliable Source reporter Amy Artgetsinger called "Recap and Fact Check."
Imagine Tina Fey with a journalism degree from Columbia -- really really snarky funny about what happens in each episode PLUS great fact-checking and correctly calling out certain plot developments driven by the Post's own reporting on the many holes in the story of Michaele and Tareq Salahi. Reading it is sort of like watching bad TV with older siblings and their cool friends on the sofa in the basement and listening to them try to out-do each other in the smartass department.
A few excerpts:
When Michaele talks about the perils of posting incriminating stuff on Facebook:
Mwah-WAHH! We here at the Washington Post have been given a lot of credit -- and deservedly so! - for breaking the story of the uninvited guests at the White House state Dinner... but let's remember too that the Salahis kind of gave away the game by posting on Facebook all those now-iconic photos of themselves cozying up to Biden and Rahm at the dinner.
When lobbyist Edwina Rogers encourages Cat Ommanney to come to a party "for Washington insiders, Republicans and Democrats":
Oh, help us. No one talks this way, not about their own parties or their own friends, unless maybe they're reading from the same "Rules of Washington" cue cards prepared for Mary and Lynda most weeks.
When Mary Amons welcomes Cat Ommanney to her home:
She greets Cat Ommanney at the front door with a little faux-British accent of her own. "Caaatthhhherine! Welcome dahhhling. (Seeing this will now make you feel a little less awkward later in the hour when she greets Stacie with 'gir'frien!')
Brief mother-daughter scene at the Amons house. Mary tells the camera that Lolly's 'more like a girlfriend to me" only 20 years apart. Lolly chides her over the gay marriage issue. "Gay people aren't just our hairdressers, they're our senators!" (Give us names Lolly!) Mary agrees that gay marriage is probably a constitutional right, but then can't quite quote the Constitution, and Lolly prompts her. "Certain unalienable rights? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?" Quirky music, and Mary's all, oh yeah that's what I mean. (Poor Mary, always the butt of the joke. And btw, that's actually from the Declaration of Independence.)
Some of it is just inspired:
"I think Bravo enlisted David Lynch to direct this one"
"then the producers dub in a 'oh-no-she diuhn't whoosh"
"We've missed Paul, the guy who single-handedly keeps the plot in motion...and I'm beginning to suspect this was a deliberate power move by Bravo, trying to limit his exposure as he films a new Paul-centric reality pilot -you know, so he doesn't become too big. Because Paul Wharton was raised in a secret government camp designed to create and train the perfect Bravo reality stars."
But the biggest running joke for the Post is the how out-of-sequence many of the events in each episode are -- (one tell being whether Cat Ommanney has bangs or not ) -- and how last-minute editing has created an impression that the housewives and the show itself are all on to the fakery and deceptions of the Salahis before the White House State dinner or are more aware that the Ommanney marriage was on the rocks when in fact little of this came to light until after the fact.
For example: Michaele Salahi attends a Redskins cheerleader reunion and clearly doesn't know any of the routines:
We basically wrote the script on this one. All the stuff about how Michaele isn't really a Redskins cheerleader? Hello! The Housewives were only able to go there because the Post broke that news to the world. In fact, thought the show doesn't admit it, it's clear to behind -the -scenes experts like ourselves that much of this episode was taped after the White House gate-crashing incident (again, brought to you by the Post). After the gate-crashing. Which , in Bravo time, supposedly hasn't happened yet. Yes, more time travel.
Even though the show valiantly tries to keep things statesmanlike with staged discussions of race and gay rights, it's the eye-rolling asides, the girlfriend confrontations and lots of air kisses at salons and restaurants with huge, HUGE glasses of wine that fuel each episode.
The Salahis continue to drive both the show and garner most media attention much to the annoyance of the other housewives. Even Bravo has had to draw the line. In a recent appearance on the local Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends Michaele revealed that she suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS) and Tareq said that even though they didn't really crash the White House event they could never fully defend themselves because of their "iron clad" contract with Bravo. The following statement was released by Bravo in response:
The notion that the Salahis have been barred under their contracts relating to "The Real Housewives of D.C." from speaking about their attendance at the White House State Dinner is simply not true. From the time of the incident until now, Bravo and Half Yard Productions, the producer of the series, have consistently and repeatedly stated to the Salahis and their representatives that they were free to speak to press, law enforcement, Congress and anyone else about attending the State Dinner. Indeed, they have given multiple press interviews on that very subject.
While at first Michaele's revelation of MS to explain her low weight and reason for abruptly leaving the White House dinner felt like the "I was addicted to pain killers' defense used by the celebrity fallen from grace it's apparently true, which is comforting because really, what an appalling lie that would be.
When asked to verify Michaele Salahi's MS Bravo answered "you'll need to ask her." But Chris Broulirre, Development Director the DC chapter of the MS Society says "I'm not a doctor, but from everything I know, Michaele Salahi has MS." He added that the Salahis have donated thousands of dollars worth of wine to the chapter's Ambassador's Ball and donated $5000 in 2007 with proceeds from the America's Polo Cup.
In an interview yesterday Michaele described herself as a "denial" patient with relapsing and remitting MS -- while she deals with this chronic illness she rarely shares her diagnosis because "I never wanted to hear 'she can't do it'". She adds that she rejected recommendation drug therapies to help slow the progression of MS both because "I have a fear of medicines to the extreme" and also because she thought it would interfere with trying to have children.
"With any chronic illness it's important to keep your stress down" she says, " So when you see Cat or someone really coming at me you'll see me laughing - that's what I do - I laugh and keep it light - I cannot have any negative vibes...so when people say why is she laughing, that's why. It's how I deal with it."
She added sometimes she takes steroids to handle flare-ups that affect her appearance and that she is naturally thin and tries to eat healthy and avoids junk food to stay balanced. She rejects speculation about her health and looks as coming from "naysayers and haters" and says "I have MS but MS does not have me."
Still, fellow housewife Lynda Erkiletian has doubts.
"I have always been concerned for Michaele's welfare. I don't think she looks healthy and my thoughts and prayers are with her," she says, "But I have a really difficult time believing it is true. MS are her initials, you know? Now it's BS."
Continuing with the letter theme, Lynda defends herself against criticism for calling Michaele out on being too skinny in early episodes. " I have never used the A word", she says, "I never said she was anorexic. I'm an agent who works with models, I know what I have to do and say, all I said was she needs to eat, I can see all the bones."
Lynda's real issues seem to be with Mr. Salahi, who allegedly threw a glass of wine at her at a party promoting the show in LA this summer. She reports that when she saw Tareq harassing two women at the table she went over to tell him to stop. "I can't watch a man abuse women," shesays," I interrupted his tantrum, he cursed, I cursed back and he threw wine at me. He's weak and he's a coward who doesn't expect women to stand up to him."
Regular viewers note that Tareq has both an unusually large presence on the show and in his wife's life, i.e., he's always standing right next to her. When asked if she thinks the Salahi marriage has elements of dominance or abuse Lynda demurs.
"Michaele's in charge," she says, "I wouldn't have said that 8 years ago but she's as much in it all as he is. Look at her body language at the White House, when she pulls him back like that - the body language was shocking to me."
She continues, "In the end, I think they are both habitual violators of trust, they are users and professional con artists. Anyone who has known them as long as I have thinks they are delusional. I just can't believe they keep doing and saying the things they keep doing and saying, for what? 15 minutes of fame that has lasted for a year and a half now."
Most seem to agree the Salahis are a gift to the media and all reality show trash talk connoisseurs that will just keep on giving.
"I think at this point you can expect the unexpected every second of every day when it pertains to the Salahis" says Erkiletian.
Michaele Salahi calls those who doubts her diagnosis "bizarre" and adds, "Shame on them". She says watching the two final episodes of the series will be very emotional for her. "We're on the edge of our seats."
Enjoy the final episodes. Even if it's just because it's almost over.