Trump calls for 'embarrassing' White House Correspondents' Dinner to be 'put to rest'

'The filthy comedian totally bombed,' says the president of the United States

Colin Drury
Monday 30 April 2018 13:26 BST
Michelle Wolf destroys Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the White House Correspondents Dinner

Donald Trump has weighed in the ongoing controversy surrounding this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, calling for the event to be “put to rest”.

“An embarrassment to everyone associated with it,” he tweeted late on Sunday. “The filthy ‘comedian’ totally bombed. Put dinner to rest or start over.”

The post came just 30 minutes after organisers of the prestigious black tie event – attended by 3,000 members of the US press and government – appeared to show some contrition for comedian Michelle Wolf’s brutal routine.

“Last night’s program was meant to offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press while honouring civility, great reporting and scholarship winners, not to divide people,” said Margaret Talev, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. “Unfortunately, the entertainer’s monologue was not in the spirit of that mission.”

In a statement followed by an appearance on CNN, Ms Talev added: “To some extent, those 15 minutes are now defining four hours of what was a really wonderful, unifying night. And I don’t want the cause of unity to be undercut.”

Donald Trump also tweeted about the controversial dinner on Monday morning.

“The White House Correspondents’ Dinner is dead as we know it,” the president posted.

The dinner, held at the Hilton hotel in Washington, has long been known for post-dinner comedians who mock the administration. But Wolf’s routine drew audible gasps at the time and has divided opinion in the aftermath.

In it, she ripped into Mr Trump – who did not attend – as well as his White House staff and daughter Ivanka, while also forming jokes around some of America’s most controversial subjects including gun control and abortion.

In a particularly awkward couple of minutes, the 32-year-old turned her fire on a visibly uncomfortable Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.

“I actually really like Sarah,” said Wolf. “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.”

She went on to call Ms Sanders “Uncle Tom but for white women” – an apparent critique of her feminist credentials.

The routine, which saw several audience members walk out, has become the cause of much debate among politicians, commentators and members of the public alike. Former press secretary Sean Spicer labelled it a “disgrace”.

Others, including New York Times commentator Wajahat Ali, praised its “solid, cutting jokes”.

Among Wolf’s barbs was a quip comparing Ivanka Trump to a nappy (“on the outside she looks sleek, but the inside, it’s still full of shit”) and another which referred to the president’s alleged dalliance with adult movie actress Stormy Daniels as “like a porn star says when she’s about to have sex with Trump, let’s get this over with”.

To general groans, she said at one point: “Yeah, shoulda done more research before you got me to do this.”

The dinner has been held since 1914 and once attracted Oscar winners and other notable performers in film and television as well as celebrities in sports and other high profile professions. The star power dimmed appreciably last year when the famously thin-skinned Mr Trump, who routinely slams Washington’s media, announced he would not attend. He was the first president to skip the event since Ronald Reagan bowed out in 1981 as he recovered from an assassination attempt.

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