The Reaction to Michelle Wolf’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner Monologue Only Proved Her Point
Daily Show writer and contributor (and soon to be host of her own show) Michelle Wolf was introduced at Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner as someone who speaks truth to power, and she did just that, not only using her monologue (watch here) to call out the Trump administration’s well-documented propensity to lie about even the most insignificant matters, but raking the press over the coals for enabling Trump in general. Based on the ensuing reaction, still going this morning, some members of the media didn’t like that one bit.
Instead of addressing that head on, everyone decided to prove Wolf’s point and paint her remarks as, among other things, an unfair attack on White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ appearance, despite the fact that the only remark Wolf made in that regard was to say Sanders does a “perfect smokey eye.” No one is quite sure how that’s an insult—to her appearance, at least. Wolf made it quite clear that the joke around that line was an insult of Sanders’ rampant lying in defense of her boss, who, for the millionth time, has decades of history as a lying blowhard, so it’s pretty ridiculous for anyone to act scandalized at the idea that his team might be dishonest.
But no time was wasted in avoiding the substance of Wolf’s criticism of either the Trump administration or the media, and instead serving up reactions like this:
Watching a wife and mother be humiliated on national television for her looks is deplorable. I have experienced insults about my appearance from the president. All women have a duty to unite when these attacks happen and the WHCA owes Sarah an apology.
— Mika Brzezinski (@morningmika) April 29, 2018
That @PressSec sat and absorbed intense criticism of her physical appearance, her job performance, and so forth, instead of walking out, on national television, was impressive.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 29, 2018
For which Wolf had a quick response:
Hey mags! All these jokes were about her despicable behavior. Sounds like you have some thoughts about her looks though? 😘 https://t.co/JRzzvhBuey
— Michelle Wolf (@michelleisawolf) April 29, 2018
Thus began an entire Sunday (or more) of everyone arguing over whether Wolf had crossed a line with imaginary jokes, rather than evaluating whether she was right about the media enabling Trump (she was and still is), or talking about something of substance—not necessarily limited the water crisis in Flint, Michigan that Wolf used to make her point at the end of her speech. Trump himself, of course, had his say on Twitter (exactly what you’d imagine—you can skip it), despite the massive number of people at whom he’s flung terrible personal insults. So did former governor/amateur comedian Mike Huckabee, who’s probably just mad that he’ll never be as funny a person as his daughter was a punchline.
American Conservative Union chair Matt Schlapp got in on the action on CNN, saying, “Journalists should not be the ones to say that the president or his spokesperson is lying,” which demonstrates a pretty spectacular misunderstanding of journalism. That’s not particularly surprising, when we’ve all been continually asked to meet in the “center” and “hear both sides” on issues where the only “sides” are right and wrong, and even the White House Correspondents’ Association made it clear that their mission isn’t so much the speaking truth to power that was trumpeted at the dinner, but making nice at all costs and playing the “both sides” game, even when it’s at the expense of the truth:
#WHCA Statement to Members on Annual Dinner pic.twitter.com/8DKoHNxpNi
— WHCA (@whca) April 30, 2018
Let’s remember that this kind of roast at the White House Correspondents’ dinner is pretty normal, and if it seemed like things got particularly ugly this year, that’s more a reflection of Trump than anything else. It’s ridiculous that Wolf is getting this much criticism for something that’s been done before. There’s plenty of talk that Wolf’s speech will only galvanize Trump supporters and work in conservatives’ favor, but history might remember this moment a lot differently:
Tonight was deja vu from 2006. That year, Stephen Colbert eviscerated Bush to his face with a scathing speech. Pundits called it unfunny and unfair. The public disagreed. GOP lost that November. It’s now considered an iconic performance.
That was Michelle Wolf tonight.#WHCD
— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) April 29, 2018
(image: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Netflix)
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