Wolf at the Door

Michelle Wolf, the headliner at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner (WHCD), appeared to play into the hands of Trump defenders, and the President's very public snub of the event in a stand-up- routine that was at turns mean spirited and at others even more mean spirited. 

While the President has been heavily criticized for personal attacks on journalists and comments about people's weight or looks, Wolf, host of Netflix's new, The Break, took the same route, and the reception from the audience, at least from the CNN video, was a mix of laughs, awkward laughs and some awkward silences.

The dinner is always a roast with "ouch" moments for those in attendance, which usually includes the President and top staffers but as one journalists pointed out on Twitter, the jokes have generally been efforts to singe without immolating--Don Imus' bomb at a Clinton roast being one notable exception. Wolf edged toward the latter.

The President had declined to attend for the second year in a row, asking: “Why would I want to be stuck in a room with a bunch of fake news liberals who hate me?” Wolf delivered on that characterization.

"Like a porn star says when she's about to have sex with a Trump: ‘Let's get this over with,’” said Wolf as she took the podiuim. Certainly Republicans shared that view as the routine progressed.

The top trending topics on Twitter Sunday morning (April 29) were "WHCD" and "Michelle Wolf," while the President tweeted the following after his rally in Washington, Mich., which he attended instead of the dinner. He told the crowd that the event was more fun than a "phony Washington dinner." He said he did not have time to sit and smile at people who "hate his guts."


Reviews of the evening varied. CNN's headline was "Biting comedy, inspirational moments define annual White House Correspondents' Dinner," while the BBC said: "Comedian's Sarah Sanders 'roast' stuns White House Correspondents' Dinner."

Sanders was present at the head table for the series of jokes about her looks and demeanor and veracity, or lack of it. Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, which does not attend the event, tweeted that she was impressed that Sanders had not walked out.

Sean Spicer, who had Sanders job, called the routine a disgrace. Wolf tweeted back "Thank you." As to Haberman's take, and others who criticized the jokes about Sanders’ appearance, Wolf saw it differently. "Hey mags! All these jokes were about her despicable behavior. Sounds like you have some thoughts about her looks though?," she tweeted.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.