On Saturday, comedian Michelle Wolf did the unpardonable: she told the truth. As the entertainer for the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner—typically the occasion for backslapping and self-congratulation by an incestuous and corrupt press—she delivered a ferocious, entirely well-deserved and hilarious lampoon of the Trump administration, the Democrats and the press.
In response, Wolf was denounced not only by Trump and his flunkies, but by the leading lights of the print and broadcast media, as well as by White House Correspondents Association President Margaret Talev.
Much of the feigned outrage over Wolf’s remarks centered on her takedown of the Trump administration’s thuggish female media flacks, Kellyanne Conway (“Man, she has the perfect last name for what she does: Conway… All she does is lie”) and Sarah Huckabee Sanders (“She burns facts, and then she uses the ash to create a perfect smoky eye”).
After Wolf’s remarks, leading members of the White House press corps rushed to offer their support and condolences to a woman who shamelessly lies to and bullies them every day.
“Apology is owed to @PressSec and others grossly insulted ny (sic) Michelle Wolf at White House Correspondents Assoc dinner,” NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell tweeted.
Mitchell, married to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, is a notorious warmonger, who this year called “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” a “trap” and famously referred to rural Virginia as “redneck country.”
Another defense of Sanders’ honor was launched by Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, the New York Times’ duo, whose names almost never appear on the front page of the paper without being accompanied by the statements of unnamed “intelligence sources” warning about Russian subversion.
Haberman tapped out on Twitter, “That @PressSec sat and absorbed intense criticism of her physical appearance, her job performance, and so forth, instead of walking out, on national television, was impressive.”
CBS News’s “This Morning” program included a segment on the speech consisting of a panel of four people denouncing Wolf. One of the panelists, Norah O’Donnell, declared, “They need to look clearly at the spirit of what the White House Correspondents Association is, and I think part of it includes civility.”
And Mika Brzezinski, the daughter of imperialist strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski, declared on Twitter, “Watching from home, I hurt for Sarah, her husband and her children.” She added, “All women have a duty to unite when these attacks happen and the WHCA owes Sarah an apology.”
This is all nonsense. Wolf said nothing about Sanders’ appearance, and only called her, correctly, a liar.
What really set these well-heeled “journalists” off was that Wolf called out them out for what they are: a bunch of ignorant, reactionary scandalmongers, ignoring every genuine social and political issue to prattle endlessly about their hobbyhorses.
As Wolf put it, “We have all these 24-hour news networks, and we could be covering everything. But, instead, we’re covering like three topics. Every hour, it’s Trump, Russia, Hillary and a panel of four people who remind you why you don’t go home for Thanksgiving.”
Speaking to the print and broadcast press, she poignantly observed:
You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you used 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.
Trump is the creature of a hysterical, reactionary, right-wing and ignorant media climate. His foibles and scandals give these phony journalists the opportunity to spew their bile, while obscuring the fact that they agree with him on almost everything that matters: lowering taxes on the rich, slashing social services, attacking democratic rights, and waging war abroad.
White House Correspondents Association president Margaret Talev also denounced Wolf, declaring her remarks were “not in the spirit of” the “mission” of the event,” which was “meant to offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press while honoring civility, great reporting and scholarship winners, not to divide people.”
Talev’s statement expresses far more than its author intended. While the aim of war propaganda is to “offer a unifying message,” that is certainly not the function of serious journalists, whose aim should be—at least in theory—to question and criticize those in positions of authority, sometimes revealing the social divisions that exist in reality, and thus “widening” them in the public mind.
The reactions to Wolf’s trenchant critique expose those demanding her apology as propagandists, not journalists.
And to the extent that the WHCA dinner expresses “unity” between the press and the White House, this is a testament to the corruption of the media, which sees itself as political insiders, protecting the secrets of the state.
Wolf’s speech tore up the cardboard cutout concepts—“sexual misconduct,” “Russian meddling,” and the like—employed by the press to shape the political discourse. These fell by the wayside, and reality emerged:
Now, I’ve worked in a lot of male-dominated fields. Before comedy, I worked at a tech company and, before that, I worked on Wall Street. And, honestly, I’ve never really been sexually harassed. That being said, I did work at Bear Stearns in 2008. So, although I haven’t been sexually harassed, I’ve definitely been fucked. Yeah, that whole company went down on me without my consent. And no men got in trouble for that one either.
Wolf dealt with the real facts of American life: Wall Street looted the country and no one was punished, immigrant children are being rounded up and deported, teachers don’t have supplies for their students, and, as she concluded, “Flint still doesn’t have clean water.”
For all the media’s stifling, incestuous and vulgar flattery, its endless promotion of right-wing nonsense, Wolf’s monologue was a reminder that not only does there exist a world outside of the Washington bubble, there exists a public opinion—one that increasingly sees the media courtiers for the liars and sycophants they are.