It was supposed to be an event honoring journalism, but the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner devolved into partisan attacks on President Donald Trump and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckacbee Sanders. For that, Margaret Talev, the outgoing head of the WHCA, wants people to know, she has regrets.
The WHCA released a statement Sunday night that, while short of an apology, did express regrets that “the entertainer’s monolog was not in the spirit of” the celebratory tone they aspired to.
The “entertainer” the statement refers to is comedian Michelle Wolf, who came under fire during the event for her mean-spirited and vicious cracks about the President and, in particular, Sanders, who was sitting at the head table at the event.
The statement includes a reference to future dinners and holds out the possibility that the current format of having a comedian perform at it may soon change. After complaints from members, Talev said they “are committed to hearing from members on your views on the format of the dinner going forward.”
For her part, Wolf remained unrepentant in the face of criticism, many of which came from liberal journalists.
The entire statement from Talev and the WHCA reads:
I want to tell you how much your kind words meant to me following my personal remarks at last night’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner about the roots of my belief in journalism’s essential role.
I have also heard from members expressing dismay with the entertainer’s monolog and concerns about how it reflects on our mission. Oliver Knox, who will take over this summer as our president, and I, recognize these concerns and are committed to hearing from members on your views on the format of the dinner going forward. Last night’s program was meant to offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press while honoring civility, great reporting and scholarship winners, not divide people. Unfortunately, the entertainer’s monolog was not in the spirit of that mission.
Every day we are working hard to advocate for our members and ensure coverage that benefits the public, and the dinner is an important opportunity to highlight and maintain our essential work. The White House Correspondents’ Association remains dedicated to that mission.