Lightning rod Washington housewife Michaele Salahi — she of did-she-or-didn’t-she White House gate-crashing fame — appeared on TODAY’s fourth hour Thursday, where she detailed the tongue-lashing she received from Whoopi Goldberg on “The View” Wednesday. But as she talked to Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, she was dealt another smackdown from her own reality-TV costars.
Salahi — who along with her husband, Tareq, made national headlines last November for allegedly crashing President Obama’s first state dinner (they said they were invited; the White House begged to differ, and feds even investigated charging the couple) — stars with four other D.C. doyennes on “The Real Housewives of Washington, D.C.,” and the quintet had appeared on “The View” Wednesday to promote the reality series’ Thursday night debut.
Drama quickly ensued on “The View.” While Salahi bickered on-camera with fellow D.C. Housewife Lynda Erkiletian about a drink-throwing incident caught on tape for the reality show, “The View” host Whoopi — who wasn’t part of segment — walked into camera range. She touched Salahi’s arm, and according to a “View” spokesman, told Salahi to get back on track and talk about the White House gate-crashing incident.
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What happened backstage?
What happened next is a topic of debate. The spokesman said Salahi accused Goldberg of striking her. Salahi said she did no such thing, but was nonetheless subjected to an expletive-laced tirade from Goldberg when the cameras stopped rolling.
“I was in the back, and Whoopi came into the room and said, ‘Eff this, eff that, did you say I effing hit you?’ ” Salahi told Kotb and Gifford. “I said, ‘Bring me the person, Whoopi, I never said you hit me.’ I started crying because now I have someone that I don’t even know, I’m a guest on her show, and they’re berating me with ‘Eff this.’ ”
Salahi continued: “At the end, [Goldberg] said, ‘You have to know me, I just say eff this, I don’t mean it. I just say eff you, but I didn’t mean that. You understand that.’
[But] I don’t know her personality,” Salahi added. “I know her from the movie ‘Sister Act,’ so I don’t expect that sister to be saying ‘Eff you.’ ”
As Salahi gave her account of the “View”-haha and then once again detailed the gate-crashing incident, her fellow D.C. Housewives were becoming visibly unhappy that a group interview was turning into a solo act.
Housewife Mary Schmidt Amons finally shook her head and said, “We’re tired of still hearing this and talking about it. This is a show about five people, not one couple. We’re just so finished with it. We’re so disappointed with it.”
At that point, the gloves were off: Several other Housewives began attacking Salahi.
Catherine Ommanney, for one, said working with Salahi was less than enjoyable. “We don’t have much in common, to say the least, and to be associated with her, and have to be around her husband….”
But the most damning put-down came from Erkiletian, who says she’s been friends with Salahi for 15 years. She said she now sees her in a different light.
“I did have what I felt was a trusting, loyal friendship, and I feel that like, [in] many cases, [the Salahis] have misrepresented themselves,” Erkiletian told Kotb and Gifford. “They make things up as they go along; they live a phony, fake Bonnie-and-Clyde life.”
Erkiletian also said her charity work has been undermined by the Salahis, whom she accused of profiting in the name of charitable causes. “You see people running wild saying it’s for a charity, and it goes into their pocket,” she said.
Gifford asked Erkiletian if she was actually accusing the Salahis of impropriety. “Oh, absolutely,” she responded. “I’m not the only one. The Washington Post has like 15 articles about it.”
The discussion then devolved into a free-for-all, with Salahi saying, “You’re so angry and jealous.” Kotb and Gifford seemed amused when D.C. Housewife Stacie Scott Turner made a plug for the show’s relative refinement.
“What’s so interesting about the show is that we think it’s a little bit more sophisticated than some of the other [Housewife reality shows] have been,” Turner said. “You won’t see hair pulling, weave pulling.”
Gifford quipped, “I don’t know, we may see that soon.”
Still, to be sure, the story of Tareq and Michaele Salahi’s White House adventure continues to dog the couple 10 months after the fact. Salahi claims “The View” producers were told not to refer to Salahi as a “gate crasher” during her appearance Wednesday — but show panelists Sherri Shepherd and Joy Behar still employed the term. And Salahi also claimed that when Shepherd told Salahi “You should be in jail” on air, the “applause” sign lit up for the audience.
She said, she said
Salahi told Kotb and Gifford Thursday that she couldn’t understand why Goldberg came on camera to tell her to talk about the White House to begin with, since she wasn’t the one directing the conversation.
The “View” spokesman said Salahi indeed did accuse Goldberg of striking her, and said the accusation was “completely unfounded and erroneous.”
“After the show and after being told she was being accused of hitting Ms. Salahi, Whoopi then proceeded to defend herself verbally from this baseless claim in a heated exchange with the Salahis,” the spokesman’s statement read.
Salahi’s attorney, Lisa Bloom, issued a counter-statement, saying, “Mrs. Salahi’s overall experience on ‘The View’ was degrading and demeaning.”
As for Goldberg, on “The View” Friday she displayed no remorse for her run-in with Michaele Salahi — and claimed husband Tareq helped fan the flames backstage.
“Michaele was very upset about what I did. I told her that she knew I didn’t hit her. And yeah, you know how I said it: choice words,” Goldberg told viewers.
“And I make no apology for my choice words,” Goldberg added, referring to her profanity. “Her husband got in my face, had his BlackBerry out and started taking pictures of me. There was even more, choicer words — you could have cut ’em with a steak knife.”