Correspondents’ dinner: Did Wolf go too far?
The media just handed President Trump a “big, embarrassing win,” said Mike Allen in Axios.com. The White House Correspondents’ Association was forced to apologize because its annual dinner celebrating the press featured a cringeworthy monologue by comedian Michelle Wolf. Using crude language, Wolf mocked Trump’s porn star scandals, taunted press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ makeup by joking that she uses the ashes of “burnt facts” to create the “perfect smoky eye,” and made a crack about abortion—including “don’t knock it until you try it”—that left the audience in stunned silence. “But Trump had the last laugh,” said Kyle Smith in NationalReview.com. Instead of dignifying this obnoxious farce with his presence, Trump staged a rally in Washington, Mich., so he could “spend the evening with ordinary Americans.” The media did the rest by exposing themselves as mean, hateful hacks.
Spare me the “pearl-clutching,” said Erin Gloria Ryan in TheDailyBeast.com. “Unlike a Sarah Huckabee Sanders–helmed press conference, Wolf’s set at the correspondents’ dinner contained no lies.” And some of her harshest barbs were aimed at the smug journalistic insiders sitting in the audience. Wolf rightly accused the media of having a symbiotic relationship with the Trumpian circus, devoting millions of words to his every utterance while ignoring important stories—such as the fact that Flint, Mich., still doesn’t have clean water. A comedian’s job is to deliver uncomfortable truths. Wolf’s acerbic routine provided “the sort of acid honesty that America needs right now.” Trump’s defenders certainly have no grounds for complaint, said David Frum in TheAtlantic.com. Candidate Trump mocked a disabled reporter and said of Carly Fiorina, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?” As president he calls the former director of the FBI a “slimeball” and his former opponent Hillary Clinton “crooked” and threatens to put them both in jail. The snowflakes in Trump’s White House demand “decencies and courtesies” they habitually deny to others.
True enough, but “the optics” of the dinner are becoming “suicidal for the press’s credibility,” said Margaret Sullivan in The Washington Post. Journalists shouldn’t play to their caricature as “out-of-touch elites” by hobnobbing at a ritzy gala with politicians and celebrities. Reporters should be out reporting, “not schmoozing in the swamp.” For the sake of journalism, this White House Correspondents’ Dinner should be the last.