Comedian Michelle Wolf’s caustic routine at Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner got some major pushback — and not just from President Donald Trump and members of his administration (many of whom, like press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, were in the room).
“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.”
Associated Press reporter Meg Kinnard added, “If the #WHCD dinner did anything tonight, it made the chasm between journalists and those who don’t trust us, even wider.”
Many focused on the harsh jokes from the “Daily Show” alum directed at White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was on the dais as Wolf delivered jibes at her personal appearance and honesty.
“The spirit of the event had always been jokes that singe but don’t burn,” NBC News White House correspondent Kelly O’Donnell tweeted, noting that “reporters who work with her daily appreciate” that Sanders turned up for the event at all.
Unfortunately, I don't think we advanced the cause of journalism tonight.
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) April 29, 2018
— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) April 29, 2018
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
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
Early Sunday, Trump himself panned the event as a “very big, boring bust” and said “the so-called comedian really ‘bombed.'”
Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer called the dinner “a disgrace.”
Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said that he and his wife, White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp, walked out early in protest: “Enough of elites mocking all of us.”
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.” @greggutfeld should host next year! @PeteHegseth
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 29, 2018
Tonight’s #WHCD was a disgrace
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) April 29, 2018
My wife @mercedesschlapp and I walked out early from the wh correspondents dinner. Enough of elites mocking all of us
— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) April 29, 2018
Read some of the other reactions below.
Imagine the outrage if a conservative had said those things about Samantha Power, Valerie Jarrett, or Marie Harf. (I know, conservatives aren't actually invited to host the WHCD, but bear with me…)
— James Hasson (@JamesHasson20) April 29, 2018
— Brad Thor (@BradThor) April 29, 2018
Years ago I vowed never to go to another #WhiteHouseCorrespondenceDinner and haven’t been to one since. One thing though if you are offended by Michelle Wolf’s jokes, and don’t also speak up every day about the President’s actions and words then you are part of the problem.
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) April 29, 2018
Some good lines. And I’m very willing to laugh at brutal jokes. I did. Some of the personal attacks on Sarah Sanders were unfunny & would never EVER be told about a Democrat in her position. Also, if you’re going to make abortion jokes, make them close to funny ???? gross. #WHCD
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 29, 2018
— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) April 29, 2018
I wouldn’t have thought any less if they would have walked out — it was insulting and shameful. #WHCD is not about journalism this year but about elite snobbery and bullying. I’m thankful I wasn’t there. @realDonaldTrump was smart not to go and hang w great people in #Michigan https://t.co/vtrOxzOOGl
— Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) April 29, 2018
I have attended the #WHCD
In ‘96 Al Franken roasted the Clintons mercilessly. He even made a joke about the stain on Monica’s dress w/ Hillary sitting right there.
The WHCD has been a full contact sport for decades. Trump’s lies & vulgarity are coming back to bite him in the ass. pic.twitter.com/MjP8kW7be3
— Billy Baldwin (@BillyBaldwin) April 29, 2018
And while Wolf was excoriated by many in Washington, her act was applauded by others, like The Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald, who praised Wolf for making the night uncomfortable.
The main problem with the DC press corps for decades has been they view the politically powerful as their primary social comrades, colleagues & in-group cohorts – not as adversaries. It's gross and incestuous: like Versailles. It's improved a bit in the Trump era but still strong https://t.co/HyrsvbLJZ5
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 29, 2018