- Comedian Michelle Wolf’s racy monologue at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner on Saturday night has elicited mixed reactions across media and politics.
- President Donald Trump skipped the dinner for the second year in a row, but some members of administration were present to take jabs from Wolf.
- Trump tweeted Monday that the annual dinner should end.
The White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner featured a racy and targeted monologue from comedian Michelle Wolf that has prompted mixed reactions from journalists, pundits, and politicians.
Wolf expectedly commented on Trump, but prompted groans and backlash with searing insults about individuals on the president’s staff.
Some of the strongest reactions were after Wolf took aim at press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was seated a few feet to Wolf’s left at the head table.
“I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful,” Wolf said. “She burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smokey eye. Like maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.”
Journalists took notice of Wolf’s jokes as especially edgy, and responses like tweets from The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and Fox News’ Abby Huntsman noted Sanders’ gracious tolerance:
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
The winner of last night was hands down @PressSec. Sitting poised and beautiful as #wchd comedian Michelle Wolf reminded us how ugly we can be when tearing another person down. I hope this inspires us all to be better, kinder, non-judging people.
— Abby Huntsman (@HuntsmanAbby) April 29, 2018
NBC News White House correspondent Kelly O’Donnell pointed out that the event has a tradition of telling jokes that “singe but don’t burn.”
Wolf also targeted Vice President Mike Pence (“What happens when Anderson Cooper isn’t gay”), counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway (“has the perfect last name for what she does”), first daughter Ivanka Trump (“done nothing to satisfy women … like father, like daughter”).
When the audience groaned after one crass joke, Wolf laughed, saying, “Yeah, shoulda done more research before you got me to do this.”
Former Trump allies and White House officials in attendance reacted to Wolf’s relentless jabs, with former White House press secretary Sean Spicer tweeting the dinner was a “disgrace,” and former chief of staff Reince Priebus concluding that Trump’s supporters and critics alike felt the “uncomfortable” atmosphere.
An R/X rated spectacle that started poorly and ended up in the bottom of the canyon. Another victory for @realDonaldTrump for not attending and proving his point once again. The room was uncomfortable. Trump lovers and even a large number of Trump haters were pretty miserable.
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) April 29, 2018
Though her one-liners are the expense of Democrats weren’t as biting as they were for the Republican administration, Wolf did have one killer insult for former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
“It is kinda crazy that the Trump campaign was in contact with Russia when the Hillary campaign wasn’t even in contact with Michigan,” she said.
Others thought that Wolf’s jokes were fair game and in tune with the unbelievable nature of the current administration:
Also, how self-regarding do you have to be to invite a comedian & then get upset that she makes jokes about the rich, famous, powerful people in the room? And how irrational do you have to be to think a comedian at a DC event is supposed to be reverent & sober in *the Trump era*?
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 29, 2018
According to an online statement by WHCA President Margaret Talev announcing Wolf’s performance, the dinner is an annual event to meant to “honour the First Amendment and strong, independent journalism.”
Talev appeared on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday morning and said that while “comedy is meant to be provocative,” the dinner “may have fallen a little bit short” of its goal in “unifying the country.”