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Comedian Michelle Wolf didn’t just roast the Trump administration and the journalists who cover it at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday night — she burned them to a crisp. So it’s no surprise that her no-holds-barred 20-minute routine met with polarizing reactions, inside the Beltway and beyond.
To some journalists, the gala reflected poorly on them and their profession. “If the #WHCD dinner did anything tonight, it made the chasm between journalists and those who don’t trust us, even wider,” tweeted Associated Press reporter Meg Kinnard. “And those of us based in the red states who work hard every day to prove our objectivity will have to deal with it.”
Peter Baker of the New York Times (which does not participate in the dinner) wrote, “Unfortunately, I don’t think we advanced the cause of journalism tonight.”
His NYT colleague Maggie Haberman called out what she saw as “intense criticism” of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ physical appearance and job performance — though Wolf pushed back on the first part.
“Why are you guys making this about Sarah’s looks?” Wolf tweeted. “I said she burns facts and uses the ash to create a *perfect* smoky eye. I complimented her eye makeup and her ingenuity of materials.”
Many conservative voices criticized Wolf’s routine, including former press secretary Sean Spicer (“a disgrace”), Fox News anchor Abby Huntsman, and President Trump himself (“a very big, boring bust”).
But Wolf also found her share of supporters, including (but not exclusive to) folks on the left of the political spectrum and figures of the comedy world. Late Night host (and frequent Trump critic) Seth Meyers, for example, tweeted, “Few people go to DC and accomplish what they set out to do while staying true to themselves. @michelleisawolf is one of those people.”
Addressing the controversy Sunday on CNN, Margaret Talev, the White House Correspondents Association president, said, “I hope that everyone can remember that comedy is meant to be provocative, and it doesn’t always hit the mark. … But again, my interest overwhelmingly was in unifying the country, and I understand that we may have fallen a little bit short on that goal.”
Read more reactions below.
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