CBS Again Downplays Obama Administration Role in WH Security Breach
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Bianca Solorzano reported on the couple who snuck into the White House state dinner, but avoided fully explaining the role a Pentagon official played in the scandal. She claimed emails between Pentagon liaison Michele Jones and Michaele and Tareq Salahi: "actually undermine their claims that they were invited..."
Solorzano quoted one email in which Jones told the Salahis that "it doesn't seem likely" she could get them an invitation to the event and that she "then left the Salahi's a voice mail before the dinner, saying they did not get an invitation."
However, Solorzano failed to cite later emails in which Jones reacted to the Salahis getting into the dinner. After getting home from the White House gala, Tareq Salahi sent an email thanking Jones for her help: "Hi Michele, You are an Angel!....it worked out at the end. We ended up going to the gate to check in at 6:30pm just to check, in case it got approved since we didn't know, and our name was indeed on the list! ☺ We are very grateful and God bless you." Jones replied back: "Tareq, You are most welcome! I here the smile in your email and am delighted that you and Michaele had a wonderful time."
In contrast to the Early Show, on Wednesday, both NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America detailed those final emails and the White House explanation of why Jones seemed completely unsurprised that the Salahis gain entrance to the dinner without a formal invitation.
On Today, correspondent Savannah Guthrie reported:
...at the end of the night, Mr. Salahi e-mailed Michele Jones, a message suggesting the couple showed up unsure of whether they were really invited. Quote "Hi, Michele, you are an angel! My cell phone battery died early this evening, so I just got your message now, but obviously, it worked out at the end. We ended up going to the gate to just check, in case it got approved, since we didn't know, and our name was indeed on the list. We can't wait to see you and catch up and share memories of a true lifetime." Michele Jones responded the next afternoon saying, quote "Tareq, you are most welcome! I hear the smile in your e-mail and am delighted that you and Michaele had a wonderful time." Well, the White House says Michele Jones responded that way to be polite and because she simply assumed that they must have gotten tickets some other way, knowing that she hadn't been able to secure state dinner tickets. Michele Jones on Monday evening released a statement and here's a portion of it. Quote, "I specifically stated that they did not have tickets and in fact that I did not have the authority to authorize attendance, admittance or access to any part of the evening's activities. Even though I informed them of this, they still decided to come." And White House officials say the bottom line doesn't change here, Jones never said they had tickets, but there's no question, those e-mails show she did try to help.
On Good Morning America, correspondent Pierre Thomas similarly explained:
In an E-mail sent at 1:03am after the event, the Salahis say they never got the phone message. "But, obviously, it worked out at the end. We ended up going to the gate to check in at 6:30pm to just check [sic] in case it got approved, since we didn't know. Our name was, indeed, on the list." The White House and Secret Service say the Salahis were never on any list, that the Secret Service made a mistake in letting them in. The next afternoon, Michele Jones seems happy the Salahis got into the dinner, noting she "was delighted" they "had a wonderful time." By a source familiar with the exchange says that Jones was simply expressing happiness that somebody got the Salahis in. She said she had nothing to do with it. And now, is not so friendly with the Salahis.
An excerpt of Solorzano's report on the Early Show:
Before they ever made their grand entrance, the White House says there's an e-mail trail that shows they were never invited. The Salahis have been in contact with Michele Jones, a Pentagon-based White House liaison. The day before the state dinner, Jones e-mailed Tareq Salahi that she was still trying, 'but it doesn't seem likely.' At 8:46AM the day of the dinner, Jones wrote 'I will call or e-mail as soon as I get word one way or another.' Jones then left the Salahi's a voice mail before the dinner, saying they did not get an invitation. The Salahis say they didn't get that message until after the dinner because of a dead cell phone battery. In the meantime, yesterday the Salahis were seen in Georgetown attending a photo shoot believed to be with the other cast members of the upcoming cable TV show 'The Real Housewives of D.C..' Bravo says Michaele Salahi hasn't been officially cast on the show and that there's still several months of filming before a final decision is made. So just how much did Bravo and the show's production company know about the Salahi's invitation to the White House state dinner? Bravo had filmed the couple around town as they got ready for the event and even asked its sister network NBC for access to the tape of the Salahi's arriving at the dinner. The couple did appear on NBC yesterday, but refused to answer specific questions. Bravo maintains that it believed the Salahis were on the guest list. The cable network also said 'the Salahis informed the production company that they were invited guests. Producers had no reason to believe otherwise.'
On Monday, the Early Show worked placed little blame on the Obama White House for the controversy.
-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.