Every year, there is outrage when a famous comedian invited to host the self-gratifying political orgy known as the White House Correspondents Dinner uses the opportunity to crack jokes about the participants. As is the custom. Every year, the assembled journalists proclaim themselves outraged at the comedy routine making fun of journalists; every year, conservative politicians proclaim themselves terribly hurt by the lack of deference given to the worst of them. The problem, according to the gathered most powerful people in America, is that comedians are mean to them.
This year the fainting couches were rolled out in reaction to Michelle Wolf, who used a snippet of foul language—in front of baseball stars—and who insulted the White House’s principal propagandist, a woman who lies openly and freely in service to deflecting criticism of a president’s racist statements, racist actions, lies, more lies, still more lies, scandals, more scandals, failure to abide by even rote ethics expected of the presidency, vulgarities, potential criminalities, and take-your-pick, by pointing out that the liar was a liar, but one with fabulous eye shadow.
And all the people who stared blankly into the abyss as the now-president demonized immigrants, and non-Christians, and the last president, and his political opponents, and federal investigators, and the press, and the rule of law itself, on any occasion in which it caused him the slightest injury, and all the people who stare blankly at the Sean Spicers and Sarah Sanderses of the White House and wrote down, dutifully and punctually, the flagrant lies that the White House wanted disseminated on that particular day, pretended that this was the one incident of impropriety that shook them. The comedy routine.
And the conservatives, including the ones who host conventions in which the speakers regularly suggest that their political enemies are traitors to the nation who need to be expunged, with violence if necessary, and who demand mass purges of immigrants, rally around white nationalists and white supremacists, talk about what should be done with those that enable abortions, and so on, and so on, and so on, pretend to be outraged at the incivility of it all. For about twenty minutes. Not enough to forgo the after-dinner wine, of course.
White House director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp and her husband, conservative activist Matt Schlapp, walked out early. “Enough of elites mocking all of us,” he tweeted. (Still, the Schlapps later attended NBC and MSNBC’s after party).
Here is my hot take on the matter: Shut up.
For the love of God, you gigantic babies, shut up. You control the levers of power, but it is not enough. You control, to a larger extent than any other Americans in any other locations, the direction and speed of every political wind. You have the power to trivialize scandal, and scandalize trivialities, and you use it every day, against famous targets and against private citizens alike. You are the press. You are the government. You are at the peak of your profession; you are at the center of what America is and will be, if your town has any say at all over it. You determine what the papers will report tomorrow, and what they will ignore. And it is still not enough; there is never a point at which any other American, anywhere, will be able to do a tenth as much to you as you do to them without dozens upon dozens of the most powerful figures in America bursting into false tears and wringing their hands at the incivility of it all.
You show contempt for “Hollywood” daily, and promote that contempt; the same for sports stars in encroach upon your political turf; the same for high school students not wanting to be shot; the same for striking teachers, or whoever else attempts to dip their toes into your wading-pool.
But insulting one of the most flagrant propagandists America has seen within the White House in modern times—that is a bridge too far? That does not even rise to the level of maudlin. That is simply, for at least half of you, rote.
If a single night of barbs is too much, end it. Go home, you babies. Go back to your column-spaces and write about all the other people who are not allowed to encroach on your domain of explaining which professional liars are decent and which outrageously cruel ideas are perhaps not cruel at all, if you turn your morals off. Go to your conferences and whine bitterly, conservatives, that a movement predicated on contempt for all others receives contempt itself. Go, and let us never have these ostentatious, masturbatory, celebrity-adjacent self-promoting events again.
Just end this stupidity already. Go on, end it. Next year, have no comedian at all, rather than one who might wound the fee-fees of the most powerful men and women in the nation. Next year, have no event at all; content yourself with the after parties, where you can drink and brownnose in peace without having to hear a single barbed word other than the ones you dish out behind each other’s backs. We dare you. We dare you to abandon this one glittering party.
Go on, do it. Put up or shut up.