PHOTO: AARON P. BERNSTEIN/REUTERS
No matter how you feel about Donald Trump or the Washington-based journalists who cover him, you should be angered by what was offered Saturday as entertainment at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
Michelle Wolf, recently of Comedy Central and soon to have her own series on Netflix , was foul-mouthed about Mr. Trump and downright cruel about members of his administration, several of whom were in the room. Worse, though it proved to be beside the point, she wasn’t funny.
“Trump is so broke,” she quipped, that “Southwest used him as one of their engines.”
She called Vice President Mike Pence a “weirdo”: “He thinks abortion is murder, which, first of all, don’t knock it till you try it. And when you do try it, really knock it. You know, you got to get that baby out of there.”
Ms. Wolf’s material—most of which was laced with too much profanity to print here—wasn’t about the First Amendment, as some suggested. Nor was it about the #MeToo movement, which she attempted at one point to hide behind. It was simply a Saturday Night Massacre of dignity and common sense.
It helped prove two unfortunate truths: First, the notion of having working journalists dress up for “nerd prom,” as they call it, and fawn over celebrity guests while listening to a hired comic roast the officials they cover each day was never a good idea. Now, in the freewheeling age of social media, it’s completely bankrupt.
Second, Mr. Trump was right to skip the event. No reasonable person, even among his harshest critics, would have expected him to sit through this.
On Twitter the next morning, Mr. Trump called it a “big, boring bust.” He was too kind. The event has given Mr. Trump’s supporters more ammunition to use in what is essentially an unreasonable attack on “fake news” and “mainstream media.”
Many pundits were as conflicted about Ms. Wolf’s act as they are about how to cover the Trump administration, as CNN’s instant analysis following the event proved. Historian Douglas Brinkley immediately said, “She had some great one-liners.”
About 20 minutes later, he retreated to: “She has the right to say what she did.” After an hour’s reflection, Mr. Brinkley concluded: “The dinner is broken. I think it needs to be reimagined next year.”
Through this misguided event, the Correspondents’ Association has given Donald Trump what he wants most: the last laugh.