WHCD Comic Didn’t Insult Sarah Sanders’ Looks, Just Her Lies

Someone who never saw the comedian’s act booked Michelle Wolf for the White House Correspondents Dinner, and right now that talent booker is probably looking for a new job. True to form, Ms. Wolf flamed the media and the public figures who are the White House correspondents’ meal ticket. Oddly, it was this relatively light toasting of Sarah Huckabee Sanders that caused the greatest uproar:

“I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. But she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like, maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.”

Critics saw it as a gratuitous slam at Ms. Sanders’ looks, which it wasn’t. Why would they think that?

  1. Because that’s the kind of thing that critics expected, Sarah being a woman and all; and
  2. A combination of room echo and Ms. Wolf’s casual enunciation allowed some in the room to hear the word “facts” as “fat” (see #1); and
  3. Men in the audience didn’t recognize the allusion to a Maybelline “smokey eye” ad campaign.

Another joke likening Sarah Sanders to the Aunt Lydia character of the “Handmaiden’s Tale,” the enforcer of the patriarchy’s enslavement of women, was seen as a comparison to the physical appearance of the middle-aged actress who plays her.

The Michelle Wolf gag that really skewered the heart of America’s media, though, was this:

“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 him. And if you’re going to profit off Trump, you should at least give him some money, because he doesn’t have any.”

Even in past years, when the White House Correspondents Dinner was a politician- and celebrity-infested “nerd prom,” the hoopla of the annual dinner overshadowed the event’s purpose, raising money for journalism student scholarships. Maybe next year’s WHCD (if it happens) will eschew comedy and feature singing, juggling, or mime.


“Since when did ‘perfect smokey eye’ become an insult, America?” Jean Hannah Edelstein, The Guardian

“No, Michelle Wolf Didn’t Joke About Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s Looks,” Jen Chaney, Vulture

“Michelle Wolf’s Joke About Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s Eye Makeup Wasn’t Bad!” Amanda Arnold, The Cut

“Michelle Wolf’s Joke About Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s Eye Makeup Was Totally Fine,” Cheryl Wischhover, Racked

“Maybe She’s Born With It. Maybe Sarah Huckabee Sanders Is Propping Up a Bigot and the Joke Was Fair,” Molly Mulshine, Elle

“The real reason Michelle Wolf is under attack is because her Sarah Sanders jokes are true,” Laura McGann, Vox

“The most provocative thing Michelle Wolf said,” Aaron Blake, Washington Post

“Michelle Wolf Slays Useless White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” Matt Taibi, Rolling Stone

“Michelle Wolf did exactly the job the White House Correspondents’ Association asked her to do,” Caroline Framke, Vox

“Michelle Wolf Did What Comedians Are Supposed to Do,” Adam Conover, New York Times

“Comic Michelle Wolf Responds To Backlash: ‘I’m Glad I Stuck To My Guns,'” Terry Gross, Fresh Air

“How Michelle Wolf Blasted Open the Fictions of Journalism in the Age of Trump,” Masha Gessen, The New Yorker


“More Appropriate White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner Jokes for 2019,” Teddy Wayne, McSweeney’s

Short link: https://wp.me/p6sb6-rzz

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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