White House crashers to cash in?

Do Michaele and Tareq Salahi, who may face criminal charges, deserve the right to sell their story to the media?

Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the reality-TV aspirants who gatecrashed President Obama’s first state dinner, are reportedly trying to sell their first TV interview about the incident for around half a million dollars. The couple has already canceled an (unpaid) sit-down with Larry King scheduled for today. Meanwhile, lawmakers from both parties are urging that the Salahis be arrested. Should the couple be allowed to reap financial benefits from an arguably criminal action? (Watch a CBS report about the Sarahis seeking big money for an interview)

The only reward the Salahis deserve is jail: This "despicable, desperate, duplicitous couple" should be punished severely, says Ed Rollins at CNN.com. "Criminal trespassing" at the White House isn’t cute or funny, and they embarrassed Obama and the nation in front of India’s prime minister. The Salahis want a reality show? How about "Trial and jailtime."

"Prosecute the White House gate-crashers"

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More power to them if they can exploit this: I can’t decide if Michaele and Tareq Salahi are "idiots or geniuses," says Verne Gay in Newsday. Expecting $500,000 "would suggest 'idiots'" — no network will pay that — but "I’m leaning towards the 'genius' side." The couple want reality-show fame, but not just for fame's sake. These days, notoriety can also bring lucrative book deals, clothing lines, and more. Payment or not, "they’re playing the networks like expensive violins."

"Michaele and Tareq Salahi: Idiots or..."

Don't worry — all swindlers suffer eventually: The Salahis only innovation in the "ancient art" of social climbing, says Anne Applebaum in The Washington Post, is their scheme "to cash in faster — a lot faster." And they’ll probably get their reward, since "plenty of 'legitimate' news outlets are ready to play." Then, if we’re lucky, they’ll meet the same end as their fellow "swindlers" throughout the ages: shame and banishment.

"Social climbing with a twist"

This is the price America pays for trashing up its culture: "In an earlier age in America, we would put them in the stocks in the middle of the public square for a public shaming," says Jon Taplin in Talking Points Memo. But not in our shameless age of "Jon & Kate plus 8" and Balloon Boy. "The Salahis are living proof you get the culture you deserve."

"Couple of the Year"



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