It was going to have to be something big to lure me out of semi-retirement - and yes, I recognize that I’d retired before I’d truly begun, but the demands of grandkids will do that to you, the latest of which arrived just under three months early, weighing in at only three pounds – but I couldn’t restrain myself after the events of the week just gone!
Specifically last weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner and the furor it created among TV’s talking heads (superseded only by Guliani’s shocking announcement that “The Donald” did indeed pay off porn star Stormy Daniels after months of denying such a transaction took place), got me thinking: What was it about Michelle Wolf’s 19 minute 18 second performance that shocked the audience so?
I would suggest that shaving 18 minutes and 18 seconds off that time and researching Wolf’s work makes it clear that the White House Correspondents’ Association got exactly what it paid for. Wolf’s comedy is edgy to say the least. Go to her Wikipedia page and Wolf’s comedy topics are listed as American politics, news media, egomania and human sexuality in that order, and she hit on them all with a sledgehammer last Saturday night!
While I consider myself a pretty open-minded individual, even I winced at a couple of her jokes. In my opinion, the ones about abortion and the recent Southwest Airlines engine disaster shouldn’t have made it past her first draft. Her other jokes? They made for an equal opportunity roasting. Actually, it was more like Wolf went in with a scorched earth policy in mind, and no one was immune. Did Wolf save most of her jokes for the person who was noticeable by his absence? Of course. It was the WHITE HOUSE Correspondents’ Dinner after all.
In his stead, the president sent a woman in to do a man’s job. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders graced the dais knowing she was entering enemy territory. Wolf had her tongue sharpened in anticipation, and didn’t disappoint. However, the one thing Wolf did NOT do that seemed to cause such immediate faux outrage by TV and print reporters everywhere was insult Sanders’ looks. Did she did call her out for her lies? Yes she did. Because that is one fact that is, well, undeniable. Regardless of which side of the political aisle you stand, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lies on behalf of the president. She’s actually remarkably good at it. It’s her job. How deep she has to dig into her morality is what’s up for debate; and once again people seem to have wildly differing views on this issue depending upon their political stance.
And just as Huckabee-Sanders has a job to do, so did Wolf. She was paid to show up and eviscerate – well – everyone. To expect anything less from her was at best naïve, and in the worst case utterly negligent on the part of the White House Correspondents’ Association. So for them to then make a statement the following day that essentially threw the comedian under the bus makes her remarks about the journalists there that night all the more fitting. She accused them of soft-pitching questions about Trump’s antics, rather than calling out his policies, because he’s just so damn good for business. She has a point.
Serious journalists, and I mean here that if you are assigned to the White House you should fall into this category, need to move beyond the Cause Celebre that is Trump. Bring your questions back to what is important to the people of America. Rattling your jewelry and showing off your couture on a red carpet is not what groundbreaking reporting is about. Ask the current administration about the millions who no longer have access to affordable healthcare. Ask them about their privatization of the nation’s Veteran’s Administration, education, and prison system. Ask them, as Michelle Wolf did as she left the podium last Saturday night, why Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have potable water.
It’s about time these highfalutin journalists stopped pretending they’re members of some special club. As Robert DeNiro said to the White House Correspondents’ Association at last Monday’s Lincoln Center gala honoring British actress Helen Mirren.
“Shame on [you]. Stand up, strap on your balls and deal.”