Press Corps’ hand-wringing over comedienne Michelle Wolf’s “caustic” performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner Saturday night misses the point. Wolf aimed a harsh spotlight at their failures as journalists. Instead of daily contesting the lies of the Trump Administration – and that of Press Secretary Sanders – many anchors and pundits instead opt for access, normalizing an administration that glorifies the worst in us, not our best. No wonder hypocrites like NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and MSNBC’s Mika Brezinski worked so hard to distract the news cycle by claiming Wolf attacked Sarah Sanders’ looks (she didn’t) so they could bury Wolf’s money quote:
”You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you use to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you.
He couldn’t sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric. But he has helped you. He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster and now you’re profiting off of him. And if you’re going to profit off of Trump, you should at least give him some money because he doesn’t have any.”
Wincing at having their noses rubbed in abandoning the responsibilities of the Fourth Estate, this prideful bunch chose instead to adopt Trump-ian attacks on a comedienne for doing what she was hired to do – roast them.
Here’s what she actually said about Sanders:
“And, of course, we have Sarah Huckabee Sanders. We’re graced with Sarah’s presence tonight. I have to say I’m a little star-struck. I love you as Aunt Lydia in “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it.
Every time Sarah steps up to the podium, I get excited because I’m not really sure what we’re going to get: you know, a press briefing, a bunch of lies or divided into softball teams. “It’s shirts and skins, and this time, don’t be such a little b—-, Jim Acosta.”
I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. Like, she burns facts, and then she uses the ash to create a perfect smoky eye.”
Wolf compared Sanders’ demeanor to a dour character on a TV show and called Sanders out for lying, daily. And for those of you who pretend not to know, the smoky eye is a thing – see below.
As better known comedians have pointed out in her defense, Michelle Wolf “punched above her weight” by calling out the behavior of those more powerful than she, including the Press Secretary, who was there as the President’s proxy, since he was too cowardly to show up himself.
Another point that is getting missed amid all this pearl clutching is that if Hillary Clinton were in office now, she would have shown up herself and taken a horrible razzing with grace – as she always has. Never mind the horrid jokes at the expense of her daughter Chelsea as a teenager or attacks against President Obama’s then “tweener” daughters. Where was press outrage then?
Here’s a sampling of male comedian jokes at Hillary’s expense from her years as First Lady and Senator:
“…Clinton has accused Obama and his people of trying to dump a bucket of water on her and make her melt.”
“Bill Clinton is the only ex-president who hasn’t planned his own funeral. But, in his defense, in the past he has said he wants to be buried next to Hillary. I guess he figures he never slept next to her when they were alive, might as well try it now that they’re dead.”
“Look at Hillary. Can you blame Bill for what he did?”
“[F]ormer President Bill Clinton says that most people don’t know Hillary has the world’s best laugh. Bill added, ‘I get to hear it every time she pushes me down the stairs.’”
“Kenyan women have vowed to withhold sex until their leaders stop bickering — they said they got the idea to withhold sex from a recent visit from Hillary Clinton.”
— Jay Leno
“Last night, Bill Clinton saw the ‘Nutcracker.’ Not the ballet. Hillary.”
“I’m surprised they did a portrait of Hillary. I thought maybe an ice sculpture would have been more appropriate.”
Frigid. Witch. Ball buster. Killer. Ugly.
Press outrage = zero.
As Jill Filipovic stated in a new article for Cosmopolitan:
“Sarah Huckabee Sanders lies to reporters. Reporters should be upset about that, not her eye makeup.”
From Ian Millhiser, Editor, Think Progress:
I hope I never have a job where I have to humiliate myself by publicly sucking up to Sarah Huckabee Sanders because I think it will help me maintain access to people who are just going to lie to me anyway.
— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) April 30, 2018
From Full Frontal’s Samantha Bee:
— Full Frontal (@FullFrontalSamB) April 30, 2018
I have a zero tolerance for sexism. But Ms. Wolf called the Press Secretary out for her bullying and false behavior. Ms. Wolf’s jokes weren’t about denigrating a woman’s appearance. Wolf spent a lot more time making fun of both Parties as well as delivering deserved slams on the press corps. They said they wanted to be roasted. They were.
I remember male comedians going farther than this at prior WHCD events and not getting this sort of reaction.
Let’s keep our eyes on the prize. Whether we think Michelle Wolf’s routine was funny or not, she did her job.