Margaret Talev, a Bloomberg journalist who serves as president of the White House Correspondents Association, acknowledged that comedian Michelle Wolf’s monologue at the group’s annual dinner on Saturday “was not in the spirit” of its mission.
In an open letter sent Sunday night from the association’s official Twitter account, Talev noted that she had heard from many member journalists “expressing dismay with the entertainer’s monologue and how it reflects on our mission.”
“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 to divide people,” she wrote. “Unfortunately the entertainer’s monologue was not in the spirit of that mission.”
— WHCA (@whca) April 30, 2018
Talev indicated that she and Olivier Knox, the chief Washington correspondent for SiriusXM who will become the association’s president this summer, will consult other members to review “the format of the dinner going forward.”
Wolf’s caustic, sometimes raunchy routine at the televised charity event got some major pushback — including from President Donald Trump and members of his administration (many of whom, like press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, were in the room and targets of some of the most pointed punchlines).
Late Sunday, Trump called the event — which he declined to attend for the second straight year — “an embarrassment to everyone associated with it” and called on the association to “Put Dinner to rest, or start over!”
The White House Correspondents’ Dinner was a failure last year, but this year was an embarrassment to everyone associated with it. The filthy “comedian” totally bombed (couldn’t even deliver her lines-much like the Seth Meyers weak performance). Put Dinner to rest, or start over!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2018
But many journalists who attended the event also decried the tone of Wolf’s routine. “Unfortunately, I don’t think we advanced the cause of journalism tonight,” New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker tweeted.
Politico reporter Kyle Cheney said that the harsh tone of Wolf’s routine was off-putting — and counterproductive to the message that the press organization was trying to send.
“Michelle Wolf didn’t fail just because she was (spectacularly) one-sided,” he tweeted. “It was because she was unnecessarily cruel on a night the WHCA was trying to showcase decency and purpose.”