April 29 (UPI) — President Donald Trump wasn’t on hand to hear comedian Michelle Wolf at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner, but several members of his administration were directly on the firing line of quips.
The former Daily Show contributor’s jokes Saturday night drew some laughs but there were also gasps from the attendees in the Washington Hilton ballroom. Some Trump supporters and staff walked out during the 20-minute speech.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was criticized by Wolf, remained at the head table as Trump’s representative.
The president was returning from a campaign-style rally in Washington Township, Mich., during the formal dinner.
“People call Trump names all the time,” Wolf said. “And look, I could call Trump a racist, or a misogynist, or xenophobic, or unstable, or incompetent, or impotent. But he’s heard all of those and he doesn’t care. So tonight, I’m gonna try to make fun of the president in a new way, in a way that I think will really get him. Mr. President, I don’t think you’re very rich. You might be rich in Idaho, but in New York, you’re doing fine.”
Wolf also spoke about Vice President Mike Pence, White House advisers Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway, and other Republicans.
“I had a lot of jokes about cabinet members, but I had to scrap all of those because everybody has been fired,” she said.
Sanders and Conway sat stone-faced during much of the monologue.
“I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. [She] burns facts, and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like, maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies,” Wolf said as a television camera cut to Sanders at the head table.
The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, who has been criticized in the past by Trump, blasted the jokes of Sanders, posting on Twitter, “That [Sanders] sat and absorbed intense criticism of her physical appearance, her job performance, and so forth, instead of walking out, on national television, was impressive.”
On Sunday, Wolf defended her comments on Twitter, “Hey mags! All these jokes were about her despicable behavior. Sounds like you have some thoughts about her looks though?”
Several other journalists also noted their disgust, including NBC’s Mike Brzesinski, who tweeted, “Watching a wife and mother be humiliated on national television for her looks is deplorable.”
NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell wrote, “Apology is owed to [Sanders] and others grossly insulted by Michelle Wolf at White House Correspondents Assoc dinner.”
Former Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus on Twitter called the night an “R/X rated spectacle that started poorly and ended up in the bottom of the canyon.”
“Another victory for [Trump] 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,” he wrote.
Wolf also directed lines at Democrats, including former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“It is kind of crazy the Trump campaign was in contact with Russia when the Hillary campaign wasn’t even in contact with Michigan. It’s a direct flight. It’s so close,” Wolf said.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who is retiring after this year, appeared in a video message to the scholarship winners at the event and other future journalists.
“There’s so much noise out there, but our republic does not work without an informed electorate,” Ryan said. “Pay attention to the policy, not just the personalities. Look at the human impact, not just the horse race. And above all, challenge yourself to challenge us, those of us in to public office. Because what you do, it really matters. It provides transparency and accountability.”
White House Correspondents’ Association president Margaret Talev said, “We reject efforts by anyone, especially our elected leaders, to paint journalism as un-American.
“An attack on one journalist is an attack on us all,” Talev, a Bloomberg reporter and CNN analyst added.
Trump reacted Sunday morning on Twitter by saying, “While Washington, Michigan, was a big success, Washington, D.C., just didn’t work. Everyone is talking about the fact that the White House Correspondents Dinner was a very big, boring bust…the so-called comedian really “bombed.”