At first, I truly thought the “outrage” from journalists towards Michelle Wolf was performative. As in, I thought journalists were just pretending to be terribly offended by her jokes so that they could protect their sources within the administration, and clearly one of their big sources is Sarah Huckabee Sanders. But after the White House Correspondents’ Dinner controversy raged on well past it’s media cycle, I realized something awful: it wasn’t just performative outrage. Journalists really were and are mad at Michelle Wolf for speaking truth to power. Wolf didn’t tell any lies about Donald Trump, or Republican leadership, or Hillary Clinton, or White House employees. And she certainly didn’t lie about how the media created and then catered to Trump because his presidency has been good for their business. That’s why media figures were mad: in a set that lasted less than 20 minutes, Michelle Wolf destroyed and exposed everyone in the room. And she’s not sorry. Some highlights from Wolf’s NPR interview yesterday:
On how Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn’t stand for the awards part of the WHCD: “I also think that if you – another part of the dinner that wasn’t televised is they were giving out awards and everyone was standing to congratulate the people who were getting awards and Sarah was sitting… CNN reporters got awards, I cannot remember the exact award they got, but they came up to accept them and she sat the whole time, while we all stood and shook their hands. I would say if this is about celebrating the media she wasn’t there to celebrate the media.
Whether she was surprised by how her set was received: “I wasn’t expecting this level, but I’m also not disappointed there’s this level. I knew what I was doing going in. I wanted to do something different. I didn’t want to cater to the room. I wanted to cater to the outside audience, and not betray my brand of comedy. I actually, a friend of mine who helped me write, he gave me a note before I went on which I kept with me which was, “Be true to yourself. Never apologize. Burn it to the ground.”
She’s proud of what she did: “I mean, I’m honestly – I wouldn’t change a single word that I said. I’m very happy with what I said, and I’m glad I stuck to my guns.
She thinks people expected her to be “nice”: “Yeah, I mean, I think I don’t know maybe I’m projecting this, but I think sometimes they look at a woman and they think “Oh, she’ll be nice,” and if you’ve seen any of my comedy you know that I don’t – I’m not. I don’t pull punches. I’m not afraid to talk about things. And I don’t think they expected that from me. I think they still have preconceived notions of how women will present themselves and I don’t fit in that box.
I’m glad she’s not backing down or apologizing, even if the White House Correspondents’ Association is backing down and apologizing on her behalf. She did nothing wrong. She did everything right. She spoke truth to power. It was uncomfortable and savage and obscene and that’s what Trump and his enablers wrought.
Photos courtesy of Getty.