The controversial Salahi talks to McCain about her portrayal on The Real Housewives of D.C., which premieres Thursday, and the "misinformation" that people have about her.
When The Real Housewives of D.C. premieres tonight on Bravo, viewers will see the beginning of the fifth installment of the highly successful franchise. They will also see the introduction of Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the infamous " White House crashers," who in November got into trouble for attending the Obamas' first state dinner (they said they had been invited). From watching the premiere, trouble does seem to follow Michaele: In the first episode, she is accused of having an eating disorder, and the previews for the season tease the Salahis' financial problems and, yes, the crashing. (And that was all before her scrape Wednesday with Whoopi Goldberg.) We had a long conversation, compressed here, about her portrayal on the show, her style icons, and how, because of how she got famous, "people only see us for us on that one night."
“I’m just a girl in D.C. and I hope it just highlights who I really am.”
Michaele Salahi takes Bravo behind the scenes of her America's Polo Cup event.
Meghan McCain: What did you think of the first episode?
Michaele Salahi: I thought it captures all the women, and it was a lot of fun, and I'm happy that people can finally see who I really am. I love people, I have a big compassion for people, and they highlighted that in the first episode, so it made me laugh, so it was fun.
Even though there were some hard things… like the eating thing and all that. You know, that hurt, but the biggest thing about me that I think people will see is that I'm a person who forgives in this world, whatever happens.
• Salahi Accuses Whoopi of ‘Abuse’ Meghan: In the first episode, there are two characters fighting over Bush vs. Obama. Do you think the show will draw viewers in because there's such a fine line between pop culture and politics nowadays?
Michaele: You know, it's a part of our life, so I think it is [expected] that the Real Housewives of D.C. is going to encompass everything that happens in D.C., it is the most powerful city for making decisions, protecting and creating laws, so it's a natural fit that we have to at some point, some of the women are going to touch on it, because it's such a big part of our life. But we also see that yes, everyone has their viewpoint about politics, but you'll see that there's some of the best performance centers, you know, the Kennedy Center, the best restaurants, you know, the monuments, theater, and arts.
Meghan: How did you meet your husband and how did you fall in love?
Michaele: We met through a mutual best friend and we were at Café Milano, which is a really fun, really hip place… Our second date, he took me to Paris, and I was thinking—when we got back—that night, when we were getting on the airplane to go to dinner, I said, "Oh my gosh, we're going to Paris…" And he's like, "We're just going to get dinner and come back." So I fell in love with my husband, a whirlwind, just fun. Just amazing, he sent 368 roses and said, "You complete me," at my job. Yeah, it was one thing after another—it was so loving and just over the top. It just took me away—just like wow. I definitely felt like Cinderella and my prince had found me.
As fairy tale as my life [had] been in the beginning and it was for years, and then in the last three years, we had—like every family had—there's been family and health and pain, and even with businesses and things and our own personal life, that we've learned that the foundation of our marriage is stronger than ever because we have a TV crew and you go through some of the things that we've gone through. When you're married and you say 'I love you, I do,' it's no matter what, and you love that person.
Meghan: I need to ask you about, obviously, the alleged White House crashing. You have a book coming out about it [written by Daily Beast contributor Diane Dimond, with the Salahis' cooperation]. Is there anything you want to say that hasn't already been said about what happened last November at the White House?
Michaele: She named the book Cirque Du Salahi: Be Careful Who You Trust—it comes out September 17 and it's on Amazon, I think now it's on presale. It's going to tell who we are as individuals, who we became as a couple and on that particular night, a lot of people have impressions about us from that night, and I think one of the biggest things is, people only see us for us on that one night.
Meghan: And it's just going to talk about your lives beforehand, and then the White House, and then everything after with Bravo?
Michaele: Right, Bravo—that wasn't a day we were filming with Bravo—and it's going to talk about who we were as individuals, how we fell in love… I know some couples, one will get jealous of the other, so we answered a lot of questions about that—you know, how to stay strong as a couple, and how we loved—how we really enjoyed doing the TV show.
Meghan: Do you have a style icon?
Michaele: Oh my gosh, Coco Chanel.
Meghan: Coco Chanel. I think that's every girl's style icon, she's amazing. Anyone more contemporary?
Michaele: You know, I've always loved Karl Lagerfeld, you know, he's such a classic. Stella McCartney, she has made everybody look different and done it very elegant [sic]. I had the opportunity to work with her once, she's incredible. Gosh, there's so many, I could think. Just for overall style?
Meghan: Just a person in D.C. that you think has great style as well.
Michaele: I really think that if it's a political person, wow, that's a tough question. I think Nancy Pelosi always looks really put together. I think Laura Bush always looks really lovely. If we're talking nonpolitical, I would say Michaele Salahi. Do I count? I'm not political, but can I get in?
Meghan: What are you most excited about with the show coming out?
Michaele: You ask really good questions. I want the world to know, God willing, and I know that I've seen the first episode, I think they're going to see that, who I really am. You mentioned earlier Meghan, you said it best, really well said, that there's a lot of misinformation of really who I am in the media and my personality and what I'm about. I'm just a girl in D.C. and I hope it just highlights who I really am.
Meghan: Thank you so much.
Michaele: Did you see the picture of your dad that we took?
Meghan: I did, it's so funny, that you guys went to his Rock the Vote event, right?
Michaele: I loved your dad so much, he was so welcoming and incredible and he was just very charming to my husband. My husband works really hard on his wines with his dad, and he was just very complimentary and that he loves his wines.
Meghan: Oh, that's nice.
Michaele: Oh, and your mom is a beautiful dresser by the way. Put that in that article, she's a lady, she's understated elegance. She's always appropriate, she's always very much a lady.
Meghan: Thank you, I'll tell her that.
Michaele: Put that in the article. She's like my mom, she's always just, she's glamorous, but understated glam. She's beautiful—beautiful—holy God, how did I forget her? She's like one of the biggest fashion icons out there, she's always stunning.
Meghan: Good luck with the show.
Michaele: Say a prayer for me, Meghan!
Meghan McCain is a columnist for The Daily Beast. Originally from Phoenix, she graduated from Columbia University in 2007. She is a New York Times bestselling children's author, previously wrote for Newsweek magazine, and created the website mccainblogette.com. Her new book, Dirty Sexy Politics, will be published in August.