Several reporters found comedian Michelle Wolf’s performance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday to be detrimental to the mission of the evening and a gift to President Donald Trump, who was not in attendance but at a political rally in Michigan.
Wolf took gratuitous shots at President Trump and White House officials that journalists at the Associated Press, Politico, Yahoo News, The New York Times, and CNN found to be cruel and off-putting. Wolf laughed at the audience following the negative response of one vulgar joke.
“Yeah, you shoulda done more research before you got me to do this,” she said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders received many of Wolf’s lobs as did White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell called for an apology to Huckabee Sanders.
Apology is owed to @PressSec and others grossly insulted ny Michelle Wolf at White House Correspondents Assoc dinner which started with uplifting heartfelt speech by @margarettalev – comedian was worst since Imus insulted Clinton’s
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) April 29, 2018
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny lamented with New York Times reporter Peter Baker that the annual dinner did not advance the cause of journalism. Zeleny added he thought the dinner was an “embarrassment.”
Couldn’t agree more. So much important and amazing journalism this year — that should be the focus, when truth matters and is needed more than ever. It was an embarrassment in the room and surely to the audience at home. https://t.co/vhbnG6tn55
— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) April 29, 2018
Politico’s Kyle Cheney said in a tweet that Wolf bombed and “undermined an otherwise meaningful evening.” Cheney remarked the comedian’s set “was (spectacularly) one-sided. It was because she was unnecessarily cruel on a night the WHCA was trying to showcase decency and purpose.”
Cheney’s colleague Tim Alberta at Politico Magazine agreed tweeting Sunday morning:
Every caricature thrust upon the national press—that we are culturally elitist, professionally incestuous, socioeconomically detached and ideologically biased—is confirmed by this trainwreck of an event.
Journalists, the joke’s on us.
The WHCD is broken. Fix it or end it.
— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) April 29, 2018
New York Times White House reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted how Huckabee Sanders reacted to the harsh jokes about her appearance.
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
Jon Ward, a reporter for Yahoo News, tweeted that he was not laughing and found himself “aghast” at many of Wolf’s jokes. He added that her routine “took mean spirited personal shots” and “was a political gift to the Trump admin.”
The Associated Press described Wolf’s routine as a “vulgar riff on Trump and party politics…”
Associated Press reporter Meg Kinnard said the dinner made the job of journalists much more difficult as far as public trust is concerned.
If the #WHCD dinner did anything tonight, it made the chasm between journalists and those who don’t trust us, even wider. And those of us based in the red states who work hard every day to prove our objectivity will have to deal with it.
— Meg Kinnard (@MegKinnardAP) April 29, 2018
However, not everyone was unsatisfied. The Nation’s Joan Walsh defended the evening’s entertainment saying, “This is gonna be a 2005 @StephenatHome moment: the crowd is scandalized (even some liberals), but a lot of people see it as the right reaction to the scandal that is @realDonaldTrump.”