We are now on Day 2 of a phony debate over Michelle Wolf’s (hilarious, relatively tame) White House Correspondents’ Dinner stand-up set, wherein the talented female comic laid waste to Trump administration officials, Democrats, Republicans, and the mainstream media.
Those dependent on the administration—for employment, political points, or access—have supposedly taken issue (or feigned outrage) with Wolf’s roast routine, accusing her of crossing some sort of nonexistent comedy line.
Enter Stephen Colbert, whose roasting of then-President George W. Bush at the 2006 edition—in character as his right-wing caricature—is without question the greatest WHCD performance in history. Colbert satirized the Iraq War, NSA mass surveillance, the infamous “Mission Accomplished” moment, sinking approval ratings, and the pathetic response to Hurricane Katrina—all to Bush’s confused face. It was glorious. Wolf, of course, didn’t have that luxury, as President Donald Trump sat out the event for the second straight year, perhaps owing to the embarrassment he suffered at the 2011 dinner.
So on Monday night, Colbert addressed the exaggerated backlash to Wolf’s set.
“You know, most nights I come out to make jokes about the news from Washington. Well, tonight, the news from Washington is about jokes: who can tell ’em, and who can take ’em,” Colbert said during his Late Show monologue.
Calling the White House Correspondents’ Dinner a “circle of jerks,” the comedian took aim at the White House Correspondents’ Association, which, in the wake of the criticism, released a bizarre statement throwing Wolf under the bus: “Last night’s program was meant to offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press…Unfortunately, the entertainer’s monologue was not in the spirit of that mission.”
“Look, you didn’t like it? You have that right. Don’t invite her back again. But grow a pair. A pair of whatever you want,” Colbert told the WHCA. “This is a roast! And you’re the ones who hired Michelle Wolf! Being mad at her for doing her job is like accusing the valet of briefly stealing your car! And stop acting like you’re surprised! I thought news people did research, but you’re telling me you couldn’t spend 90 seconds on YouTube to find out what her act was like? As a great man once said: Fake news.”
Then, he reverted back to his “Stephen Colbert” persona from the Colbert Report days to discuss Wolf’s performance through the prism of his own in 2006.
“Good to see you, Nation. It’s been a while,” he said. “I’ve been busy collaborating with Kanye West on a new album of Republican hip-hop. It’s called My Beautiful Dark Twisted Reality. I want to congratulate Michelle Wolf for being so lucky to have me Steve-splain everything she did wrong.”
Colbert continued: “First, Michelle, let’s address your potty mouth. What the fuck was up with that? This is the Correspondents’ Dinner celebrating the freedom of speech, you can’t just say whatever you want! You don’t go to a funeral and say exactly what you thought of the person, and what is the annual Correspondents’ Dinner but a funeral for the independent press?”