Thanks for fixating on eyeshadow, and other observations about the WHCD

Comedian Michelle Wolf delivers her monologue from the podium at the White House Correspondents' Dinner

“Hey, did you hear the one about the presidential administration that’s already done irreparable harm to the very concept of truth?”


I can only imagine that the White House Correspondents’ Association’s vetting process went as far as “Oh, look, a cute curly redhead!” when they chose Michelle Wolf to provide the entertainment at their annual dinner Saturday night. She delivered what was, all told, a pretty tame monologue for her, taking jabs at the current presidential administration as is customary for comedians at the White House Correspondents Dinner, and… and? A lot of it was crass and kind of tacky and pretty much entirely true, which is I think is what bothered them so much. The criticism, however, came out in the form of “I don’t mind a joke, but going after Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ appearance crossed the line!” which is fun because she didn’t actually do that. (She said three words even remotely related to Sanders’ appearance, and one of them was “perfect.”) But I guess it’s easier than responding directly to Wolf’s legitimate criticisms of the current media environment.

A few comments on her WHCD monologue:

1. Wolf didn’t have enough relative power in that room to “bully” anyone but the waitstaff, so quit whining, snowflakes.

2. By my count, she said 175 words about Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but judging by the media response, “perfect” and “smoky” and “eye” are the only ones that made it into the microphone.

3. Apparently no one understands how desirable and well-nigh-unattainable a perfect smoky eye really is.

4. If Wolf really was trying to slam Sanders’ appearance, she wouldn’t have made an eyeshadow joke and an Aunt Lydia joke in the same set. It doesn’t work. I mean, watch the show.

5. Did anyone else read her “softball team” comment as kind of homophobic? No one else seems to have objected to it, so maybe I’m seeing stereotypical lesbian tropes when they’re not there. Or maybe people are so busy defending a straight, cis, white woman with the power of the White House behind her that they didn’t pay attention to anything else.

6. Wolf did body-shame Chris Christie, and I legitimately do believe it was out of line.

7. TBH, I thought Wolf’s monologue was only about two-thirds funny, but not because it was offensive — I just thought some of the jokes were kind of weak. The Kellyanne Conway/tree bit was pretty generic, and since Mike Pence has supported electroshock therapy for LGBT kids and enabled an HIV outbreak in his home state, it seems odd to go with abortion for that section. Just my opinion.

8. Admittedly, Wolf had a job of work coming up with jokes about the current administration, because absolutely nothing about the past fourteen months has been funny. ICE is tearing families apart left and right, sometimes using arguably unconstitutional tactics. Protective policies for LGBT people are crumbling. Our national debt is skyrocketing. The West Wing has basically become a revolving door for accused criminals (including a man of “true integrity and honor” and domestic violence). And let’s not forget the administration’s constant attacks on the press who happen to be gathered right there in the banquet hall, but let’s bring the lols, Michelle, all right?

In light of that, here are a few jokes, free of charge, that cannot be argued to have anything to do with anyone’s appearance:

“Isn’t it wacky how Kellyanne Conway always addresses Chris Cuomo as ‘Christopher’? What a scamp! It’s because he gives her such a free platform to spread the administration’s lies largely unchecked that they’re pretty much besties now!”

“Has anyone noticed that when Sarah Sanders says ‘listen,’ everything that comes after that is unmitigated bullshit? Ha! Better stick with peddling misinformation from behind the podium, Sarah, because there’s no way you’re going to have a successful poker career with that tell!”

(I’m also available for weddings and bar mitzvahs.)

9. Media, if you don’t want to be called out for sucking, you should suck less. I’m sorry that what is usually a roast of the current administration turned on you at the end, but… everything Wolf said about you was right. You helped create Trump. In 2016, you broadcast entire campaign rallies for free because he was so entertaining, and now you’re 24-hour porn stars, quartets of pundits shouting over each other so you can’t understand a word, Trump campaign rallies (still, like he ever says anything new or honest at those events), and talk show appearances that end with the phrase “your new book will be coming out.”

You accept “the president has no statement about that” or “I think our position on that is clear” and fail to follow up on blatant lies during press briefings as if the press secretary’s one job isn’t to provide information to the press. A relationship that is meant to be adversarial has become one of back-scratching because that’s the price of access, which should in and of itself be a story, as should be the real significance of the White House’s contempt for the free press, but we can’t be bothered with that right now because Pickle wants to mow the lawn or whatthehellever.

I know the WHCD is supposed to be a night of self-celebration, to “offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press” (per WHCA president Margaret Talev). It sort of makes me wonder why you keep inviting political comedians to provide the entertainment if your entire goal for the evening is to eat rubber chicken and exchange shoulder massages in a Hilton ballroom. If you want to do that kind of thing without criticism, you need to keep it all in-house, because pretty much no one else thinks you’re doing a stellar job. (Seriously, you should have done more research before you got her to do this.)

10. Flint still doesn’t have clean water.

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