One of Michelle Wolf’s first jokes at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner involved a certain vulgarity that rode into widespread public use aboard Donald Trump’s “Access Hollywood” bus. To this crowd, it was apparently still a bit shocking. “You should have done more research before you got me to do this,” she said.
It was funny because it was true. The association invited Ms. Wolf, a political comedian, to its annual shindig Saturday night. She performed a political comedy routine. It was scathing, confrontational and impolite.
It was, in other words, about what you’d expect from a correspondent who once called President Trump “a racist fake gynecologist” on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah,” an American news-comedy program that I suspect even the busy members of the W.H.C.A. have caught once or twice.
Ms. Wolf did her job, and did it brutally well. It’s the correspondents’ dinner, the past weekend’s fiasco shows, that seems not to know what its purpose is.
By Sunday, with allies of the administration and Washington journalists alike denouncing the routine, the group issued its regrets. “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,” the group’s president, Margaret Talev, wrote. “Unfortunately, the entertainer’s monologue was not in the spirit of that mission.”
Mr. Trump, meanwhile, seized on the association’s backtracking, tweeting that the dinner was “DEAD as we know it.” That might be fine with Mr. Trump, who was roasted for his bogus birtherism claims by Seth Meyers and President Obama in 2011, as he sat rigid in the audience, turning into a tomato.
Was Ms. Wolf’s set vicious? Absolutely. (She called Ivanka Trump, for instance, “about as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons.”)
But was it gratuitous? Not at all. It drove mercilessly toward its themes: that this administration lies; that its female members are covering for a sexist president; and that journalists have enabled it all with breathless coverage.
Those are points of view, and not ones that anyone needs to agree with. But comedy’s job is to have a point of view, to pick a hill to die on and defend it with furiously thrown pies. Comedy is not a Page A1 news analysis. It is not its job to call the other side for comment or throw in a “to be sure” paragraph for balance.
(Excerpt) Read More in: The New York Times