Debate continues to rage over Michelle Wolf’s “comedy” act delivered at Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner with many in the media embarrassed over the profane address even as many celebrities rejoiced at the speech.
On Sunday morning, White House Correspondents Association president Margaret Talev was somewhat apologetic over the comedienne’s outrageous April 28 routine that contained attacks on White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sander’s physical appearance and other cringe-worthy bits.
On CNN, Talev noted that Wolf’s purported comedy segment has unfairly come to define the entire night. Instead of a “really wonderful, unifying night,” Talev says she regrets that the hateful and inappropriate routine is all anyone wants to talk about.
“Comedy is meant to be provocative,” Talev said before adding, “My interest overwhelmingly was in unifying the country, and I understand that we may have fallen a little bit short on that goal.”
Indeed, many members of the media agreed that the obscene comedy segment did not in the least bit help journalism beat back the impression that journalists hate everyday, average Americans, and that as a profession it is sold out to the far, far left.
Leading the contingent of journalists who felt that Wolf’s segment was less than helpful is New York Times correspondent Peter Baker who Tweeted that he didn’t think the dinner “advanced the cause of journalism”:
Unfortunately, I don't think we advanced the cause of journalism tonight.
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) April 29, 2018
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny agreed with Baker saying Wolf’s speech took the focus off what the night was supposed to be about:
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 retweeted Zeleny’s thought that the cause of journalism was marred by the dinner and then added his own tweet to denounce Wolf’s “cruelty.”
Michelle Wolf didn’t fail just because she was (spectacularly) one-sided. It was because she was unnecessarily cruel on a night the WHCA was trying to showcase decency and purpose.
Undermined an otherwise meaningful night.
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) April 29, 2018
CNBC’s John Harwood hinted that he thinks the dinner should just be canceled and left as an historical relic of the past:
First Amendment would probably be OK without the dinner
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) April 29, 2018
CNN reporter Kate Bennett said that the whole thing was tremendously uncomfortable:
So, was it to be expected? Yes, absolutely.
Did that make it any less uncomfortable? Nope, not at all.
— Kate Bennett (@KateBennett_DC) April 29, 2018
Associated Press writer Meg Kinnard felt that Wolf’s keynote segment was a set back for the relationship between the press and the American people:
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
Kinnard was also none too happy with the attacks on Sanders’ looks:
— Meg Kinnard (@MegKinnardAP) April 29, 2018
Fox Business Network star Maria Bartiromo wants the association to issue an apology:
— Maria Bartiromo (@MariaBartiromo) April 29, 2018
MSNBC reporter and long-time Washington correspondent Andrea Mitchell is also seeking an apology:
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
For his part, Jon Ward of Yahoo News was aghast that Wolf’s obscene address would help Trump, not hurt him:
I sat there, not laughing and aghast at many of the jokes that took mean spirited personal shots, and knew the routine was a political gift to the Trump admin. https://t.co/egLyvEsNcK
— Jon Ward (@jonward11) April 29, 2018
Even New York Times writer and Trump hater Maggie Haberman was chagrinned by Wolf’s standup at the dinner. Haberman even praised Sanders for bravely withstanding the personal assaults without standing up and walking out:
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
Amusingly, Haberman spent several hours Sunday morning defending her tweet against liberals who were outraged over her pique at Wolf. In fact, Haberman’s post sent members of the Hollywood elite into Twitter broadsides against the Times writer.
Bitter, out-of-work TV host Rosie O’Donnell was furious at Haberman for having sympathy for Sarah Huckabee Sanders:
u have lost ur mind – SHS abuses journalists daily – insults the intelligence of Americans with her LIES every damn day – one trump taunt n u fold … tragic maggie – in so many ways #IMawareIMaWOLF #michellewolf #COMEDY – u idiots
— ROSIE (@Rosie) April 29, 2018
Bit actor Kumail Nanjiani also prosaically slammed Republicans as racists in his response to Haberman’s sympathetic tweet:
They call you liars. They call Mexicans rapists. They call Muslims murderers. They support white supremacists. But someone calls them out on what they do, & suddenly they’re heroes for not walking out. https://t.co/B9aT7moy2C
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) April 29, 2018
Other members of the Hollywood elite were jubilant over the disgusting comedy set Wolf delivered on Saturday.
Rob Reiner of “Meathead” fame, was typical in his response to the night’s festivities:
I attended the WHCD last night. Donald Trump has so poisoned the atmosphere by attacking the disabled, gold star parents, Muslims, Mexicans, Blacks, women, the press, the rule of law that a comedian who simply tells the truth is offensive? She’s joking. He’s not.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) April 29, 2018
Virulently anti-Trump foodie Anthony Bourdain also piled on:
— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) April 29, 2018
Comic actor Jon Lovett went on the attack against former White House press secretary Sean Spicer for his Tweet calling the event a disgrace:
Hi. I’m Sean Spicer. I helped drag our country into the sewer. If I had any shame I wouldn’t dare criticize a comedian given the behavior I defended from a president. But wait. https://t.co/jzeyT9KdzL
— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) April 29, 2018
Replies like these tend to show that the purported comedienne’s routine substantiates the opinion of center-right Americans who say journalism is driven not by truth but by hate for anything not to the far left.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.