For 19 minutes, Michelle Wolf delivered humorous ridicule across the board at Saturday’s White House Correspondents Dinner, and it was glorious. Her jokes shredded members of the press, the president, and his allies and enemies in a visceral way that called out the absurdity emanating from the White House, while also highlighting how the various factions in D.C. are out of touch with the American people.
Many of her jokes drew the ire of Trump officials and journalists alike, most notably for those targeting White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders. Prominent female journalists, such as MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski and the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman, trashed Wolf’s criticism of Sanders for targeting her looks—despite Wolf not actually targeting Sanders’s appearance, unless you count complimenting someone’s smoky eye. The WHCA even issued an apology for Wolf’s vulgar tone.
In response to the criticism, many have come to the defense of Wolf, including multiple journalists and comedians, for her biting commentary and the hypocrisy shown by those who have come to the defense of her targets. Here are ten of the best.
1. Kumail Nanjiani
2. Ana Navarro
3. Erin Gloria Ryan – The Daily Beast
Sanders earned that and every joke aimed at her last night. She's an adult with a very important job. She can handle it. To treat her with kid gloves because she's a wife and mother would be condescending and sexist. And all the sucking up from people who could stand to gain professionally from sucking up to her is a unique brand of Washington tiresome. (Furthermore, I'm sick of having everything that matters to me as a feminist ridiculed and discounted by centrists and conservatives who nonetheless expect people like me to defend conservative women when somebody makes a benign joke at their expense, but I digress).
4. Jean Hannah Edelstein – The Guardian
It's a shame that those on the right have used the concept of 'snowflakes' as an insult against those who oppose them, because time and time again it's clear that no one is more sensitive than the far right who follow Trump in lock step and can't take a compliment from the other side about eye shadow.
5. Jim Jamitis – Red State
This should not induce “oh woe is she” responses from people on the right. Sanders signed on to be the mouthpiece for a guy who unfairly mocked people's appearances, disabilities, and genders all the way to the Republican nomination.
6. Arwa Mahdawi – The Guardian
If anything, the likes of Haberman, Brzezinski, and Mitchell owe America an apology. They're all incredibly smart women with extremely important jobs. They're supposed to be holding power to account, not sucking up to it. Rushing to defend Sanders under a veil of faux-feminism is beneath all of them. What's more, urging Wolf to apologize for what should have been an uncontroversial joke sends an incredibly dangerous message. It suggests that it's not OK to criticize the president and his people. And it lends credence to Trump's repeated claims that the mainstream media is out to get him.
7. Katherine Timpf – National Review
The way it appears now is that when Trump makes fun of Mika's face, the Right says “Chill, it's just a joke!” and the Left says it's an outrage. When Michelle Wolf says Sarah Huckabee Sanders's eyeshadow is made of lies, the Left says “Chill, it's just a joke!” and the Right says it's an outrage. There's certainly an element of hypocrisy on this issue on both sides, but there's also one difference: Michelle Wolf is a comedian, not the leader of the free world, so she does deserve a bit more leeway when it comes to making jokes.
8. Dean Obeidallah – CNN
I was there and some of her material did make people uncomfortable. But political comedy, at its best, shouldn't always be comfortable. It should make you laugh while also challenging your views. And Wolf did just that, in strong moments like this quip: “I'm 32, which is a weird age — 10 years too young to host this event, and 20 years too old for Roy Moore.”
9. Molly Roberts – Washington Post
That persistent chumminess is why Wolf's performance, in the end, wasn't really for the press. It was about us. “You guys love breaking news, and you did it,” Wolf said to CNN. “You broke it.” To everyone else, she said: “You helped create this monster, and now you're profiting off of him.” Instead of listening — to that or to Wolf's final line, “Flint still doesn't have clean water” — we got grumpy on Twitter. Which means Wolf did a better job of defending the First Amendment than those who say that's our business.
10. Judd Apatow