A lot of Washingtonians think that, were it not for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, you wouldn’t have a Trump presidency. It sounds hyperbolic, and the theory has been disputed, but Trump watchers still believe that President Obama’s roasting of Donald Trump at the correspondents’ dinner in 2011 spurred Trump to seek the Republican nomination. Trump’s epic pride was so wounded by Obama’s barbs that it made him determined to take revenge. And he did.
This year the Correspondents’ dinner has given Trump’s power another boost. I’m sure Michelle Wolf wouldn’t have wanted to help the 45th President: she probably just wanted to make herself more famous. (Job done — though most people will now just wish they hadn’t heard of her.) But most people will probably see the clips of her vulgar, unfunny performance and think ‘give me Trumpism over that any day.’
Trump may have been a bully with a microphone, but he’s never sunk as low as Miss Wolf did in her attempts to play to the gallery.
The ‘comedian and writer’ used her moment in the spotlight to make a grotesque joke about abortion – a quip that revealed precisely the sort of ‘unhinged’ pro-choice extremism which sends most sane people running towards the pro-life camp.
But the most catastrophic section was her abuse of Sarah Sanders. I say abuse, not ‘roasting’ – because that is what it was. She was horrid to the White House Press Secretary. She lost the room, and then the country. There’s a big row now about whether or not she actually abused Sanders’ appearance. Wolf insists she didn’t. Some of Wolf’s admirers even insist that she showed admirable restraint in not picking on Sanders’s size. Who cares? That’s all PC blather. The point is she was just unpleasant just for the sake of being unpleasant, and that’s never good.
Yes, some people on social media today will talk about how hilarious it all was. The #resistance, like the alt right, thinks everything that confirms their worldview and hurts the enemy is funny.
Happily, the majority don’t agree. Most Americans will just see a nasty woman viciously insulting another woman, and they will feel disgusted. And that means another win for Team Trump.
Because the correspondents’ dinner isn’t just a private get-together when the elite get together for a laugh. It used to be – but not anymore. It’s now a gala for media self-importance; a vanity parade for the stars of American news. And people increasingly don’t like the media.
For many Americans, the dinner has come to be symbolic of the narcissism, preachiness and ego-scratching of Washington, as well as the worst aspects of slebland. Most journalists at the event, whatever their political opinions, have been good enough to say that they thought Wolf’s performance went too far. What they will be less likely to admit is that, however unpleasant an experience it must have been for Sarah Sanders, it was another PR win for her and her administration, on the back of an already successful week. Last night, Trump was in Michigan, talking to real people about how much the media hates them.
So well played Michelle. Perhaps President Trump will invite you back next year for another poll lift.