“A lot of you don’t know who I am”, said Michelle Wolf early in her odious remarks at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Unfortunately, now we do. And that, of course was the point.
Wolf, the distinctly unfunny comedienne who spoke at this year’s annual celebration of Beltway journalism, created headlines by making nasty and vulgar comments about a raft of people, and most especially about Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Whereas past evenings encouraged witty roasts and for the most part good-natured digs, Wolf took the event to a new low.
It was disappointing but not surprising. An entire generation of supposed comics is thriving not by making people laugh but by indulging their anger and hatred. We are all the poorer for it.
So negative were the reviews of Wolf’s performance that several colleagues felt the need to defend her. Jimmy Kimmel tried to convince us by tweeting “@Michelleisawolf” was FUNNY. Hire a juggler next year.”
That’s the same Jimmy Kimmel whose witty hosting of the Oscars led the awards show to its lowest ratings ever. Maybe the Oscars should hire a juggler.
Kathy Griffin stepped up to say that Wolf “was hired to do a roast…she was hired to poke fun at powerful people.”
Hillary wasn’t the only one measuring the drapes in the Oval Office; the media world looked forward to four – maybe eight! - more years of an administration with whom they saw eye-to-eye, with whom they could craft stories polishing up outcomes and burying unpleasant realities.
That’s the same Kathy Griffin who thought showing off a bleeding severed Trump head was a comic moment.
Sorry Kathy, there’s nothing “fun” about humiliating Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was sitting but a few feet away from Wolf at the dais, and who behaved with the same grace that allows her to patiently endure the dismissive, accusatory, smug press corps day after day. Wolf said she admired Sanders because “she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smokey eye. Like maybe she's born with it, maybe it's lies."
People took it as a dig at Sanders appearance and truthfulness, which it obviously was, though Wolf tried to walk it back. It wasn’t the only “joke” which fell flat.
For instance, she said this about the Vice President: “Mike Pence is what happens when Anderson Cooper isn’t gay.” Huh?
Or this: “Mitch McConnell is getting his neck circumsized.”
Or this witticism: “Trump is racist, though; he loves white nationalists.”
You get the point; not amusing; heaven knows, not clever.
Margaret Talev, head of the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA), said the following day that "Some of them [the jokes] made me uncomfortable and did not embody the spirit of the night.”
Unfortunately, Ms. Talev is wrong; the assault was very much in keeping with how the liberal media views the White House. They detest President Trump, and the feeling is mutual. CNN, the New York Times, MSNBC and the rest cannot forgive President Trump for having denied Hillary Clinton her “inevitable” presidency.
Hillary wasn’t the only one measuring the drapes in the Oval Office; the media world looked forward to four – maybe eight! - more years of an administration with whom they saw eye-to-eye, with whom they could craft stories polishing up outcomes and burying unpleasant realities. With whom they could indulge in token spats knowing that they undeniably controlled the message, and the country’s future direction.
There may no longer be a military-industrial complex, but the Beltway-establishment -media ideologues have reigned supreme for many years.
The liberal media is not only angry about the outcome of the election, they are embarrassed. Not only did they all – without exception – get the result wrong, they still cannot understand how Trump won the votes of 63 million Americans.
Which is why CNN’s James Acosta mused the other day that some Trump voters don’t see through “his act” because they “don’t have all their faculties... their elevator might not hit all floors.” Acosta said his words were taken out of context, but they were not; the video doesn’t lie.
The liberal media thinks Trump supporters are stupid and gullible and wrong. They think they themselves, by contrast, see the light.
Acosta made his disparaging remarks in the context of an article talking about the tensions between the Trump White House and the press. The media, he says, is alarmed that Trump calls the press the “enemy of the people” and described them as propagating “fake news.”
But, as Sarah Sanders recently noted, when 90 percent of the press coverage is negative, it’s reasonable to push back.
For all his bluster, President Trump has not attacked the media in any serious manner. He has not ordered his Department of Justice to spy on reporters, as President Obama did with James Rosen, or seize months of phone records from the AP. He has not excluded any outlets from accessing important administration sources, as Obama did in putting Kenneth Feinberg off limits to Fox News in 2009.
Those were meaningful assaults on the independence of the press, as were the numerous investigations into “leaks” to the press. James Risen of the New York Times called the Obama administration "the most anti-press administration since the Nixon administration.”
What Trump has done, as Wolf pointed out, is rescue many failing news organizations. "He has helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV,” she said, in one of her few intelligent comments of the night.
WHCA’s Talev commented the next day that “Comedy is meant to be provocative… my interest overwhelmingly was in unifying the country, and I understand that we may have fallen a little bit short on that goal.” Finally, a joke.