Are you as exhausted by this Michelle Wolf White House Correspondents’ Dinner “controversy” as I am? Because I am completely exhausted by this Michelle Wolf White House Correspondents’ Dinner “controversy.”
If somehow, miraculously, you have managed to avoid all news, Twitter, Facebook, your kid’s preschool’s newsletter, the reminder from your dentist that it’s time for your cleaning, and your Fitbit, everybody has strong feelings about Michelle Wolf’s comedy set at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday night. During her 20 minute bit, in addition to jokes about Trump, porn stars, pussy hats, Hillary’s campaign, Russia, “white nationalists,” Harvey Weinstein, and most deliciously, Trump being not rich, Wolf made the following jokes about Sarah Huckabee Sanders:
“I have to say I’m a little star-struck. I love you as Aunt Lydia in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it.”
“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!’ ”
“I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. 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.”
“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 following joke about Kellyanne Conway:
“She has the perfect last name for what she does, Conway. … You guys have got to stop putting Kellyanne on your shows. All she does is lie. If you don’t give her a platform, she has nowhere to lie. It’s like that old saying, if a tree falls in the woods, how do we get Kellyanne under that tree? I’m not suggesting she gets hurt. Just stuck. Stuck under a tree.”
And these jokes about Ivanka:
“There’s also, of course, Ivanka. She was supposed to be an advocate for women, but it turns out she’s about as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons. She’s done nothing to satisfy women. So, I guess like father, like daughter.”
And people FREAKED OUT — I mean, obviously Trump supporters freaked out — but more notably, the press freaked out:
Several reporters who cover the White House approached Ms. Sanders in the Hilton ballroom to express sympathy in the immediate aftermath of Ms. Wolf’s monologue. Later, at a windswept after party hosted by NBC News, Ms. Sanders appeared in good spirits as reporters swarmed her. (She even took time to chastise one journalist for asking a question at a news conference that she disliked.)
Just chew on that parenthetical for a moment.
The women who work (and lie) for Trump were not her only targets, and in fact, some of Wolf’s sharpest barbs were saved for the press:
“The most useful information on CNN is when Anthony Bourdain tells me where to eat noodles.”
“Fox News is here. So you know what that means, ladies. Cover your drinks. Seriously. People want me to make fun of Sean Hannity tonight, but I cannot do that. This dinner is for journalists.”
“MSNBC’s news slogan is, ‘This is who we are.’ Guys, it’s not a good slogan. ‘This is who we are’ is what your mom thinks the sad show on NBC is called. “Did you watch This Is Who We Are this week? Someone left on a Crock-Pot and everyone died.”
“I watch ‘Morning Joe’ every morning. We now know Mika and Joe are engaged. Congratulations, you guys. It’s like when a #MeToo works out.”
“What would I do without Megyn Kelly? Probably be more proud of women. Megyn Kelly got paid $23 million by NBC. Then NBC didn’t let Megyn go to the Winter Olympics. Why not? She’s so white, cold and expensive, she might as well be the Winter Olympics. And by the way, Megyn, Santa is black. The weird old guy going through your chimney was Bill O’Reilly.”
“I’m not going to go after print media tonight because it’s illegal to attack an endangered species.”
“You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you use to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn’t sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric. But he has helped you. He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off of him. And if you’re going to profit off of Trump, you should at least give him some money, because he doesn’t have any.”
The truth, it hurts.
You might want to sit down to hear this, but Wolf also made multiple jokes that used the word “pussy,” causing some to fetch their smelling salts at such vulgarity.
In the aftermath, the White House Correspondents’ Association put out a statement shitting on “the entertainer’s” comments, how the organization wanted to “offer a unifying message” and promising some sort of change going forward:
Alright. Some thoughts about this whole fucking mess.
First of all, it’s fine to criticize Wolf’s routine as not being funny — to each their own. Personally, having watched it in its entirety, I thought Wolf was hilarious and brilliant, but I understand if you don’t like her humor. And before I move on to my next point, I will say that having watched it, I will admit is uncomfortable to watch Sarah Sanders’ face when Wolf is making jokes about her. We are conditioned to be sympathetic when you see someone feeling hurt or embarrassed — especially a woman. So if you are at all empathetic, it is hard to watch someone in so much clear discomfort.
That being said, the loudest and most persistent criticism of Wolf is that she attacked Sanders’ appearance, and this is just patently false — if anything, she complimented her appearance:
The jokes were about Sarah Huckabee Sanders 1. being a liar and 2. being a woman who betrays other women. You can be mad that Wolf called her a liar and you can be mad that she compared Sanders to Aunt Lydia, BUT YOU CAN NOT BE MAD ABOUT WOLF ATTACKING SANDERS’ LOOKS BECAUSE THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN. And for someone like Mika Brzezinski or Maggie Haberman to insist that the jokes were about her physical appearance is to just willfully misinterpret what Wolf was saying.
Next, this incredible bit from the Axios newsletter lamenting that Wolf used a “vulgarity that begins with ‘p'”:
She made several uses of a vulgarity that begins with “p,” in an audience filled with Washington officials, top journalists and a few baseball legends (Brooks Robinson, Tony La Russa and Dennis Eckersley).
NOT IN FRONT OF OLD BASEBALL PLAYERS!
First of all the word in question is “pussy,” and it is because of Donald Fucking Trump that the word “pussy” has become such a common part of our American conversation. He made the word newsworthy when he bragged to Billy Bush that when you are famous you can “grab them by the pussy.” It is newsworthy both because he is admitting to sexual assault and because HE USED THIS PARTICULAR VULGARITY. The word “pussy” is absolutely fair game as it is part of this Presidential story.
But second of all, where is y’all’s outrage over Trump saying it? Why is it so much worse to have a comedian use the word “pussy” (admittedly in front of Tony La Russa — I KNOW! HOW COULD SHE?) than it is for the President of the Goddamned United States? How is it that he gets elected to the most powerful position in the world after saying that, but a female comic is attacked for making jokes about the President saying that?
Finally, there are some dodos, including Axios, declaring that Wolf’s set was a “big, embarrassing win” for Trump because it is going to drive conservatives away from the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Number one: it’s a fucking dinner, it’s not that important, errrrybody needs to calm down and not get their panties in a twist if Brian Kilmeade doesn’t attend next year.
But number two, as this Washington Post columnist points out, what Wolf was actually criticizing were the blatant lies from the administration and the media’s complicity in spreading them without challenging them. It’s hard: reporters are tasked with reporting “truth” and what Trump and his administration says are reportable facts — they are often lies, but the fact that they said them is a fact. The problem is the media, for one reason or another, be it fear of needing access to the White House or the fear of not appearing “objective” never seem to push back or call out Trump’s blatant lies, and as a result the lies are just repeated without context or a note of intent. This is unbelievably dangerous during an administration that wants to destroy the idea that there is objective truth:
Here is the uncomfortable truth of the matter: The press’s truth-seeking actually is dividing people, and it is the very reason for this that makes what happened such a dangerously blown opportunity. The Trump White House’s unprecedented lying and Trump’s nonstop assaults on the press are, at bottom, an effort to get the news media to be more tentative in calling out those lies and in holding Trump accountable than they otherwise might be. (One conservative said this outright on CNN today.) As Jay Rosen and Brian Beutler write, the larger goal here is to destroy the press’s role as a mediating institution. And if that fails, the corollary mission is to at least destroy that role in the minds of Republicans. This might be working: Majorities of Republicans agree with Trump that the press is the “enemy of the people.”
The press’s truth-seeking is, in fact, divisive. And the WHCA and reporters criticizing Wolf can’t wish that away. Through a systematic campaign of relentless lying and attacks on the press, Trump and his allies are trying to undermine shared agreement on facts as the foundation of our discourse and the currency in holding him accountable, and public faith in the press’s institutional role in providing those facts. Wolf told us that we haven’t yet risen to the challenge of figuring out how to respond. The WHCA and reporters worry that Wolf’s personal barbs handed Trump a win by making his case against us easier to make. But they are facilitating this themselves by failing to acknowledge what Wolf got right.
In their desperation to continue to have access to Sanders and the White House and to avoid studying their own negligent behavior during this crisis of an Presidency, the White House Correspondents’ Association and every journalist who criticized Wolf’s set are just ceding more power to the Administration’s assault on the First Amendment and truth itself.
As it turns out the media — who is supposed to speak truth to power — doesn’t like it much when they are the power and the truth is being spoken to them.
Other TV News:
In non-Michelle Wolf-related news, the Daytime Emmys were this weekend. Days of Our Lives was the big winner, as were this adorable real-life married couple who have been on the soap for 50 years.
The Simpsons made history on Sunday with its 636th episode — the most of any scripted primetime series. I made a whole gallery over on Chron.com of the shows that have had the most episodes (not the most seasons) in history. It was actually a very interesting TV history lesson for yours truly. (And here’s the apple pie recipe from the episode, if you’re interested.)
Here is a first look at American Gods season two. Neil Gaiman promises things will get “darker.”
I was just having a conversation with some folks this weekend about HBO in the early days, and how as a kid I would watch wildly inappropriate movies for children, and that they would play the same movies over and over again. Here are the Duplass Brothers talking about how their family getting HBO when they were kids changed their lives. I feel ya, Duplass Brothers! (I also made my own horror movie with my family’s enormous video camera. It was brilliant.)
There were a lot of great things about last night’s Westworld — including that amazing cameo which was a well-kept secret even from the cast (Don’t click or hover if you haven’t watched yet, it’s kinda a spoiler. I guess.) — but honestly? This might have been my favorite thing:
Kit Harrington and Rose Leslie’s wedding invitations contained the smallest of Game of Thrones easter eggs.
Here are some Game of Thrones set pictures that don’t actually show much of anything, if you are interested.
Oh, hey, after I (wrongly) criticized Letterman for not interviewing any women, Netflix released this clip of his interview with Tina Fey.
Robert Schiff says that a West Wing reboot is “top secret.” So either one is in the works or Schiff was just fucking with TMZ.
This Joy Reid thing, y’all. She apologized for blog posts she claims she didn’t write — but added she couldn’t prove she didn’t write them — in one of the weirdest Sorry Not Sorry moments. Boy, it must be PAINFUL to have to apologize to Ann Fucking Coulter.
Some 60+ women at NBC News have signed a letter in defense of Tom Brokaw in the wake of the allegations against him, including Rachel Maddow and Andrea Mitchell. Brokaw lashed out against the allegations in an email that was sent to his colleagues, attacking the credibility of his accuser, comparing the story to a “drive-by shooting” and opened with the following:
I was ambushed and then perp walked across the pages of The Washington Post and Variety as an avatar of male misogyny, taken to the guillotine and stripped of any honor and achievement I had earned in more than a half century of journalism and citizenship.
Megyn Kelly had some thoughts about those women defending Brokaw: “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
Meanwhile, the head of NBC News, Andy Lack, says that their internal investigation into sexual harassment claims is almost concluded. But the lawyer who opened the NBC News can of worms wonders why NBC isn’t bringing in an outside firm to conduct this so-called investigation.
Canadian news host Steve Paikin has been cleared of a claim of sexual harassment.
So none of these are “cancellations” exactly, but I’m not sure where else to put these:
- That Family Crimes drama isn’t going to happen on Starz.
- That Tremors reboot isn’t going to happen on Syfy. Boo.
- That Carol Burnett comedy produced by Amy Poehler isn’t going to happen on ABC. BOOOOO.
- ABBA is going to reunite and NBC and BBC will be there to air it.
- Real Country, a country music talent competition to be hosted by Shania Twain and Jake Owen.
- Sarah Chalke is joining the cast of Friends from College.
- Liz MacDonald is the host of Evening Edit on FBN.
- Tamera Mowry-Housley will host Help Me Get Married on Facebook Watch.
Mark Your Calendar
- The Break with Michelle Wolf will air Sundays on Netflix beginning May 27 and I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that this trailer came out this weekend.
- According to Henry Winkler, the fifth season of Arrested Development will premiere sometime “midsummer” and true story, my family was just last night watching the third season finale and just … this:
- Evil Genius will be your new Wild Wild Country. It debuts on Netflix on May 11.
- The Final Year, an HBO documentary about Obama’s presidency, will debut on May 21.
- Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings returns on Freeform on June 11.
- The Real Princess Diaries: From Diana to Meghan will air on E! on May 7.
- Who Do You Think You Are? returns on TLC on May 21.
- “Don’t Mess with Mommy” week will begin on Lifetime on May 11.
Paul Junger Witt, Producer of classic TV shows including Golden Girls, Benson, Soap, and The Partridge Family
Michael Anderson, Director
Pamela Gidley, Actress
Dancing with the Stars: I might tune in if only for the hilarious and wonderful Adam Rippon. Season premiere. 7 p.m., ABC
Elementary: Holmes and Watson are hired by a party girl in the season premiere. 9 p.m., CBS
James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction: James Cameron explores the roots of science fiction, and why it captivates us in this new series. Series premiere. 9 p.m., AMC
Four Our Lives: Parkland: A documentary that follows the brave students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the aftermath of the school shooting they survived. 9 p.m., Freeform
Good Girls: The women return to the scene of their first crime in the season finale. 9 p.m., NBC
Late Night: Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Roseanne Barr, Tony Hale, Miguel Late Night with Seth Meyers: John Mulaney, Lauren Ambrose, Carter McLean The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: David Duchovny, Margaret Brennan, Robert Smigel The Late Late Show with James Corden: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kylie Minogue Jimmy Kimmel Live: Carol Burnett, Jake Tapper, Keith Urban Conan: Tracy Morgan, Kristen Schaal, Ocean Park Standoff The Daily Show: Kevin Young The Opposition with Jordan Klepper : Cecile Richards Watch What Happens Live: Jax Taylor, Shep Rose
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