Accuracy in Media

Even as the president of the White House Correspondents Association issued a note of apology for the performance by comedian Michelle Wolf at the organization’s annual dinner Saturday, mainstream media took advantage of the situation to lob still more insults at President Trump.

Howard Fineman, an editor at HuffPost, tweeted, RE: #MichelleWolf: 1. Yep, blunt, crude, pitiless. Remind you of, say, a president? 2. She torched EVERYONE, even #Dems, #Stormy, #media. 3. She wasn’t playing to all America or the room, but to her #Netflix deal. 4. She was INVITED. 5. It’s not her job to behave. 6. She’s funny.”

Margaret Talev acknowledged the damage done to her organization by Wolf’s speech, which made fun of press secretary Sarah Sanders’ makeup and called her an “Uncle Tom for white women,” with a statement designed to calm the uprising.

“Last night’s program 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. Unfortunately, the entertainer’s monologue was not in the spirit of that mission,” the statement read.

She said she regretted that the 15 minutes of Wolf’s speech “are now defining four hours of what was a really wonderful, unifying night. And I don’t want the cause of unity to be undercut.”

But Fineman’s tweet encompassed most of the mainstream media’s talking points after the backlash began.

“Shut up about Michelle Wolf if you’ve been silent on Trump’s offenses,” the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart wrote.

Comedians tend to be judged on how their performances comport “with the tenor and tone of the president,” Capehart wrote.

“Remember what happened when Larry Wilmore dropped the n-bomb at Nerd Prom 2016, the last for the nation’s first African American president, Barack Obama? But when it came to Trump? Wolf totally killed it.

“She was rough, vulgar, lewd, crass and every other synonym for offensive while delivering a set of remarkable personal attacks in a loud, grating voice. Sound familiar?”

Attacks on the press secretary did not sit well with a number of mainstream media personalities. Jeff Zeleny of CNN called the routine “not funny,” “cringeworthy” and “one-sided.”

Peter Baker of the New York Times said the cause of journalism was not enhanced by Wolf’s routine.

But Fineman’s new outfit led the way in justifying the attacks.

One story reported that Wolf had not attacked Sanders’ personal appearance, even with cracks comparing her to Aunt Lydia from the “The Handmaid’s Tale” or her the way she “burns facts” and uses the “ashes” to make a “perfect smokey eye.” This was a compliment to her makeup skills, but a dig at her lying, according to HuffPost.

The media even took Andrea Mitchell to task for defending Sanders. Mitchell called Wolf the worst WHCA comic since Don Imus joked about Bill Clinton’s multiple extramarital affairs.

“Mitchell’s expression reflected that of a certain clubby, elite Washington, a place in which insiders view one another as people who have to do their jobs even if they don’t like everything their boss says or does, and therefore should be respected and excused.

And how dare any journalist look at Wolf’s speech and think she went too far.

“Much more disturbing [than conservatives defending Sanders] is that the reactions of many in the Beltway media establishment appear to be more in line with these morally bankrupt individuals than with the vast majority of Americans they are supposed to serve.”

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