Will the Salahis sue us for calling them White House party crashers?

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Will the Salahis sue us for calling them White House party crashers?

Thu Aug 05, 2010 @ 07:16PM PST

By Matthew Belloni

White-house-party-crashers Kudos to attorney Lisa Bloom, who last night blasted out one of our favorite press releases of the year. In it, she warns journalists not to refer to clients Michaele and Tereq Salahi as "party crashers" because "that statement is false and defamatory."

Bloom might have her work cut out for her. Our quick Google search for "white house party crashers" delivers 158,000 results, the first few pages of which all feature the Salahis. And we're pretty sure we've never heard Ms. Salahi, currently starring on Bravo's "The Real Housewives of D.C.," referred to as anything except "White House party crasher Michaele Salahi."

But Bloom has a point: no charges have ever been filed against the couple. We wish her luck. Read the full press release after the jump:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Attorney Lisa Bloom now represents Michaele and Tareq Salahi;  Salahis may not be referred to as “party crashers” as that statement is false and defamatory.

Statement of Lisa Bloom:

This firm represents Tareq and Michaele Salahi. Ms. Salahi is a cast member of “Real Housewives of D.C.,” a reality show airing on Bravo.

False and defamatory allegations have swirled around the Salahis since November 2009, when they were accused by the media of being “White House party crashers.” From the inception of that allegation to the present, the Salahis have consistently and vehemently denied that they were “party crashers,” and have publicly revealed emails from a White House liaison to substantiate the fact that they were led to believe that they were invited and welcomed at the state dinner. Nevertheless, many in the media continued to defame them by referring to them as “party crashers.” Few in the media even bother to add “alleged” to the title.

In fact, the government has not alleged that they are party crashers. While a grand jury investigation, costing untold tax dollars and wasted hours of time, drags on for eight months, the Salahis have never been charged with any crime. Nor is there any indication that they can be charged with any crime, since by all accounts – including the government’s account – they presented their real names and real IDs at several White House checkpoints, where they were cleared into the dinner. Video of the event shows the Salahis being announced by their real names and entering the dinner. After the dinner, the Salahis emailed a thank you note to the White House liaison, who responded the following afternoon with, “You are most welcome! I here (sic) the smile in your email and am delighted that you and Michaele had a wonderful time. J Have an extraordinary Thanksgiving and many blessings to you both!”

The Real Housewives of D.C. production company even applied for and received a permit to film the Salahis in and around White House property on that night, specifying in the permit application the truth as to who was being filmed, and for what purpose.

Similarly, the Salahis were invited to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Dinner, held several months before the White House dinner, as guests of their prior attorney, who is African American. Nevertheless, once the media whipped up a frenzy about the Salahis after the State Dinner, some went back and developed the additional false and defamatory claim that they “crashed” that dinner as well. Again, a fabrication. 

Finally, many in the media developed the inaccurate theory that Michaele Salahi was “auditioning” for the Real Housewives show the night of the White House dinner, and that their attendance at the State Dinner was a “reality show stunt.” Again, false and defamatory. She was cast and had a signed contract months earlier, and was already a part of the show. In fact, virtually the entire first season of Real Housewives of D.C. had already been shot by the November 2009 White House dinner.

The Salahis have suffered irreparable injury over the past eight months. Their business is down dramatically. Their reputations have been damaged. They’ve been made into media punching bags and punch lines.

It’s time for this to stop.

As their attorneys, we consider any characterization of the Salahis as any of the following as legally actionable defamation:

-- “White House party crashers”
-- “Black Caucus party crashers”
-- Any implication that they participated in a “reality show stunt” or “audition”
-- any other false and demeaning statements made about them.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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