On Saturday night, host Michelle Wolf delivered a hilarious White House Correspondents’ Dinner stand-up set that took aim at the mainstream media and several members of the Trump administration—most notably Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, both of whom were in attendance.
The annual dinner event, held in Washington, D.C. and broadcast on C-SPAN, is meant to “raise money for WHCA scholarships and honor the professional recipients of the WHCA’s journalism awards,” according to its website. “Proceeds from the White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner go toward scholarships and awards that recognize aspiring and accomplished journalists.”
Conway and Huckabee Sanders appeared instead of their boss, President Donald Trump, who sat out the event for the second straight year. (If you recall, Trump was thoroughly roasted/scarred by host Seth Meyers and then-President Barack Obama at the 2011 edition for both presiding over a gang of quarreling D-listers on The Celebrity Apprentice and his racist birther crusade.) Thus, the White House offered up Conway and Huckabee Sanders as sacrificial lambs for the comedy slaughter, presumably choosing these two in order to feign outrage at any low-blow jokes made at their expense.
Midway through her set, Wolf took aim at Huckabee Sanders, who was seated alongside her on the dais. “We are graced with Sarah’s presence tonight. I have to say, I’m a little star-struck. I love you as Aunt Lydia on The Handmaid’s Tale,” she said, referring to the Hulu show’s oppressive villain. “I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s really resourceful. She burns facts, and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smokey eye.” When the camera cut to Huckabee Sanders, she appeared visibly annoyed.
The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, who was given a shout-out in the night’s animated opening number, took issue with the “smokey eye” bit, and accused Wolf of making “intense criticism of her physical appearance.”
This is either a bad misinterpretation of Wolf’s joke or a criticism meant to curry favor with the Trump administration. Either way, saying that Huckabee Sanders achieves “a perfect smokey eye” with the ash from burnt facts does not qualify as “intense criticism of her physical appearance.”
Wolf took to Twitter to respond to Haberman’s strange joke analysis, writing, “Hey mags! All these jokes were about her despicable behavior. Sounds like you have some thoughts about her looks though?” followed by the kissing-face emoji.
Several of Haberman’s New York Times colleagues—including executive editor Dean Baquet, Washington bureau chief Elisabeth Bumiller and Washington Investigations editor Mark Mazzetti—sat out the dinner, instead attending a Tribeca Film Festival screening, Q&A and after-party for the upcoming Showtime docuseries The Fourth Estate, which provides a behind-the-scenes look at the Times’ first year covering the Trump administration.