While views were sharply divided over comedian Michelle Wolf’s performance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday, the resulting fracas produced one surprising point of agreement between some millennials and old-guard reporters: scrapping the event altogether.
“I would cancel the dinner immediately and use the money on the scholarships. The whole dinner is gross and shouldn’t exist,” HuffPost reporter Ashley Feinberg told TheWrap on Monday.
Feinberg’s boss, HuffPost Editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen, tweeted Sunday that if Wolf’s searing takedown of Sarah Sanders got the dinner scrapped, then the “Daily Show” alum deserved high praise.
If @michelleisawolf has finally killed the WHCD she deserves an EGOT.
— Lydia Polgreen (@lpolgreen) April 30, 2018
The sight of black-tie-clad journalists hobnobbing with White House officials they cover — as well as non-political celebrities flown in from New York and L.A. — often seemed unseemly to more woke-leaning millennial journalists.
And more than a decade ago, the New York Times stopped sending its reporters to the event, dubbed “Nerd Prom” (even when its journalists won some of the awards handed out.).
Speaking for the old guard, Axios chief and Politico co-founder Mike Allen said the Wolf performance suggested the writing may be on the wall for the decades-old charity event, which hands out awards and student scholarships on behalf of the White House Correspondents’ Association.
“Media hands Trump big, embarrassing win,” he thundered in his regular must-read newsletter on Sunday. “Watch for big debate whether to end the dinner as we know it, and whether some news organizations announce they will no longer attend.”
Stephen L. Miller, a regular contributor to FoxNews.com, told TheWrap that while he didn’t think the association should necessarily scrap the dinner, he noted the manifold problems with the event as it has evolved in the last few decades.
“The dinner as a whole is problem for the WHCA and the press,” he told TheWrap Monday, noting the outcry over Wolf’s punchlines about White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who sat on the dais during the event. “I don’t quite understand how members of the media or entertainers think that because Donald Trump has said s–ty things about women, the obvious target to get back at him is to attack another woman.”
“I don’t understand how in this great age of female empowerment, MeToo, TimesUp, a female press secretary is the target when three white male press secretaries were off limits for eight previous years. These are their rules. They created them,” he added.
On Sunday night, association president Margaret Talev released a statement noting the outcry from members about Wolf’s performance and hinting at changes to “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 to divide people,” said Talev. “Unfortunately the entertainer’s monologue was not in the spirit of that mission.”
The White House Correspondents’ Association did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.