As President Donald Trump was halfway across the country holding a safe space rally in which he got to soak up the adulation of MAGA Nation while he lobbed out grenade after grenade at his perceived political enemies, the White House Correspondents Dinner was taking place in Washington. And as you’ve probably heard by now, comedian Michelle Wolf made some mean jokes at the expense of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and it’s caused some major pearl-clutching and scolding from VERY SERIOUS PEOPLE.
That @PressSec sat and absorbed intense criticism of her physical appearance, her job performance, and so forth, instead of walking out, on national television, was impressive.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 29, 2018
Agree w/ @maggieNYT and disgusted by @margarettalev and #WHCA who knew this would happen when they hired the person – if we want people to respect journalism, we need to act ourselves w/ dignity. https://t.co/MHDRgTAHZP
— Greta Van Susteren (@greta) April 29, 2018
Couldn’t agree more. So much important and amazing journalism this year — that should be the focus, when truth matters and is needed more than ever. It was an embarrassment in the room and surely to the audience at home. https://t.co/vhbnG6tn55
— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) 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
So what did Wolf say about Sanders that had everyone searching for their fainting couches? Take a look:
“I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful,” Wolf said during one joke about Sanders. “She burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.”
Apparently, that was an attack on Sanders’ appearance, though I’m not sure how “perfect smoky eye” is a vicious slam on the press secretary’s looks.
“And I’m never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders, you know? Is it Sarah Sanders, is it Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is it Cousin Huckabee, is it Auntie Huckabee Sanders? What’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women? Oh, I know. Aunt Coulter,” the comedian snarked in another shot at Sanders.
This is more of a groaner as Wolf tried to fit too much into a joke about Sanders’ name. But again, this seems to be fair game. She’s comparing Sanders to on-again/off-again Trump supporter Ann Coulter, who is known for her inflammatory rhetoric and trollish behavior, noting that Sanders herself is not much different than the right-wing provocateur.
Wolf also made a pretty on-point observation about the gladiator-like White House press briefings:
“Every time Sarah steps up to the podium, I get excited, because I’m not really sure what we’re going to get. You know, a press briefing, a bunch of lies or divided into softball teams. ‘It’s shirts and skins, and this time don’t be such a little b—-, Jim Acosta!’”
Naturally, with several journalists hrumphing over the way poor SHS was handled, the press secretary’s pops saw the opening to play the victim card on Sunday morning:
The WHCD was supposed to celebrate the 1st Amendment. Instead they celebrated bullying, vulgarity, and hate. They got all dressed up so they would look nicer when they had a hired gun savagely attack their guests. Do they really wonder why America has no respect for them? Sad!
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) April 29, 2018
Sincere and heartfelt THANKS to @maggieNYT for having guts to publicly denounce the vicious vile attack on @PressSec at WHCD. @PressSec handled it professionally but I pray her kids never see that. I pray more they never bully another person like that. https://t.co/UeJEaXTt8T
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) April 29, 2018
Yep, that’s the same Huckabee who spends the majority of his time cracking unfunny ‘jokes’ about Democrats and the press.
And, of course, the president also had his say, live-tweeting Fox & Friends to suggest that Fox News ‘comedian’ Greg Gutfeld be given a chance to host the WHCD, presumably to sneer at the mainstream media while cracking jokes about liberal snowflakes or something.
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
It is an absolute certainty that Fox News and the rest of conservative media is going to spend an inordinate amount of time whining about this over the next several days. We’ve already seen it on Fox & Friends and one can only imagine what it will be like when Hannity, Gutfeld and Tucker get a hold of this.
But don’t play this game with them. The president spends much of his time calling the media “the enemy of the people,” and Sanders is his key mouthpiece in delivering this message. During her press briefings, she bounces between tossing out misinformation/lies and roundly demeaning the press corps. So she took a little well-deserved heat at an event her boss was too scared to attend? Cry me a river.
In the end, victimization is at the core of Trumpism. It has always been a mainstay of conservative politics as a whole, but in the Age of Trump, it has been ramped up to 11. Everything is about the airing of grievances and complaining nonstop. It is all about saying “Stop being mean to me!!!” while simultaneously tossing out slams and potshots. It is about labeling liberals and progressives intolerant snowflakes while staying ensconced in their own media bubbles.
Don’t you dare feel sorry for Sarah Sanders. Don’t you dare do it.