Video: Crashers deny crashing White House party

As Mary Katharine Ham says, consider this a big signal for a slow news day until Barack Obama’s speech on Afghanistan tonight. The Salahis reportedly dumped Larry King for Matt Lauer, but got a lot tougher interview than they would likely have had from the famously glib CNN host. Give Lauer credit for asking some tough questions (albeit on a lightweight topic), including one at the end about an earlier Congressional Black Caucus dinner that they reportedly attended without an invitation:

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The LA Times covers some of the ground that Lauer uses for his questioning:

Federal authorities say Tareq and Michaele Salahi were mistakenly admitted by Secret Service agents who failed to verify that they were on the guest list. But authorities acknowledged Monday that in the weeks leading up to the dinner, the Salahis traded e-mails with Michele S. Jones, a top Obama political appointee at the Pentagon, in hopes of scoring an invitation.

One source close to the investigation said the couple produced the e-mails at the security checkpoint last Tuesday to show that they had been invited to the event. The Secret Service, which has interviewed the Salahis as part of its own investigation, has obtained copies of the e-mails.

On Monday night, the White House released a statement in which Jones said she did nothing to help the couple get into the dinner.

“I did not state at any time, or imply that I had tickets for ANY portion of the evening’s events,” according to the statement from Jones, whose title is special assistant to the Secretary of Defense and White House liaison. “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.”

Was this just a misunderstanding, or are the Salahis publicity hounds? The argument that Michaela Salahi’s entire life’s work has been “destroyed” because of the scrutiny and attention — in which they’re now participating — seems overly hyperbolic. Even a misunderstanding on the nature of the communication would understandably need to be investigated if indeed the Salahis got admitted to the White House without specific clearance. As for the Salahis’ work being “destroyed,” having to juggle Matt Lauer and Larry King seems like scant evidence of it. As the old saying goes, they’ll be eating dinner on this for months, and won’t have to crash those, either.

Why exactly did the Salahis push so hard for invitations in the first place? What business were they hoping to conduct at the dinner? I would have liked to hear the answers to those questions, too.