Lisa de Moraes on Michaele Salahi's latest shocker -- her MS battle

Michaele Salahi, who gained notoriety with her husband by crashing a glitzy White House state dinner, says in a new book that she suffers from multiple sclerosis.
By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tareq and Michaele Salahi put Bravo network and the other cast members of "The Real Housewives of D.C." on notice when Michaele announced on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" Wednesday morning that she suffers from multiple sclerosis.

For the rest of the show's run, any time another cast member comments about how thin Michaele is -- it's been one of the leitmotifs of this edition in the "Real Housewives" franchise -- or rolls their eyes at something Michaele says or does, or says they don't want Michaele invited to their Fill In The Blank -- both that Other Housewife and Bravo are going to look really, really cold.

Even though, of course, all the comments and all the eye-rolling you see Thursday nights were shot months ago, before Michaele's big announcement on "Fox & Friends." Which totally will not matter to "Housewives" fans, who, like fans of so many other reality soaps, seem to enter a Wonderful World of Reality TV Time when they're watching their fave franchise.

Wednesday's announcement is a public relations blow to those other housewives who have been at war with Michaele and husband Tareq this season. There was the wine-throwing incident at Summer TV Press Tour 2010. And the tension on "The View" stage when they all had to share a sofa was so thick, you could have sliced off a wedge and spread it on a cracker -- though the biggest screaming match wound up being backstage between the Salahis and show co-host Whoopi Goldberg.

Cameron Blanchard, senior veep of communications for Bravo and Oxygen networks, told The TV Column on Wednesday: "Michaele did not inform Bravo or Bravo's production company before or during production that she has MS."

Bravo has no plans to go into the remaining episodes of the first season to make any changes based on Michaele's announcement on FNC, Blanchard said.

Asked whether Michaele's announcement would have any impact on a possible second season of the show's "D.C." edition, Blanchard responded: "We are focused on this season, which still has several episodes to go. We don't make decisions about a Season 2 on a series until its freshman cycle is completed."

Yes, "The Real Housewives of D.C." has now officially turned into "The Michaele Salahi Show."

Technically, it was Diane Dimond, who has written that book, "Cirque Du Salahi," who made the announcement on FNC Wednesday morning.

The Salahis were there to plug the book and because they had, as show co-host Gretchen Carlson put it, "a major announcement to make exclusively here on 'Fox & Friends.' "

Michaele, sitting with Tareq, started to make the big reveal:

"I don't deal with anorexia. I'm not an anorexic, and I've never had an eating disorder," she began. "But one thing I have kept a secret is, for 17 years . . ."

She became too choked up to continue. Dimond jumped in:

"For 17 years, Michaele has suffered from multiple sclerosis. And when I watch 'The Real Housewives of D.C.,' and I see this story line of them picking on her, frankly -- you know, there's always got to be somebody in those [reality-series soaps] casts they pick on, and it happens to be Michaele: 'Ooh, she's anorexic, we have to have an intervention!'

"It keeps the story line flowing," Dimond continued. "But unfortunately it's not true, just like it wasn't true that they were gate crashers."

The Salahis took the occasion to once again say that they did not crash that White House state dinner back in November. Dimond, who wrote the book with the cooperation of the Salahis, also told Carlson: "I talked to a lot of my Secret Service sources [and asked], 'Can they have gate-crashed?' and the answer kept coming back, 'No -- the gate had to have opened, and they have to have been allowed in.' "

Dimond said to Carlson of the gate-crashing coverage: "There was a lot of sloppy reporting from the get-go here by two people, I believe, at The Washington Post over Thanksgiving weekend."

"We will let The Post's reporting speak for itself and the Salahis speak for themselves," The Post responded Wednesday.

But wait -- there's more!

On Wednesday's FNC appearance, Tareq told Carlson: "We couldn't in the beginning come out and just say that we didn't party-crash because there were contracts that we had to deal with and then, of course, attorneys got involved."

And a news release publicizing the new book on the Web site of the PR firm Mouth Public Relations says that the Salahis did not "fully and publicly explain" what happened that night. "On attorney's advice, and because of their 'iron clad' contracts" with Bravo.

Wednesday afternoon, Bravo -- which says it has a contract with the Salahis to appear in the show "The Real Housewives of D.C." -- issued this statement in response to the news release:

"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."

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