Michelle Wolf defends Sarah Sanders joke: 'It wasn't looks-based - it was about her ugly personality'

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Monday 28 May 2018 21:27 BST
Trailer for The Break with Michelle Wolf

Comedian Michelle Wolf has defended the controversial jokes she made about Donald Trump’s press secretary, saying they were not about her looks but about “her ugly personality”.

In a performance at the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) annual dinner in April, Ms Wolf made headlines and divided opinion in a routine that took aim the president, the media that covers him and the woman paid to speak on his behalf - Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“Every time Sarah steps up to the podium, I get excited,” the comedian said. “I’m not really sure what we’re going to get, you know? A press briefing, a bunch of lies or divided into softball teams. ‘It’s shirts and skins, and this time don’t be such a little bitch, Jim Acosta.”

Later, she continued: “I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. But she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smokey eye. Like maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.”

Ms Wolf’s barbed attack on Mr Trump’s press secretary, who was seated just feet away from her in the ballroom of the Washington Hilton, led a number of journalists to issue apologies to Ms Sanders, saying they believed the comedian had gone too far.

Michelle Wolf destroys Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the White House Correspondents Dinner

Mr Trump said the dinner, which he had boycotted for the second year in succession had been “an embarrassment to everyone associated with it”, while the WHCA president, Margaret Talev, said there had been “dismay” among some members.

“Last night’s programme was meant to offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press,” Ms Talev said. “Unfortunately, the entertainer’s monologue was not in the spirit of that mission.”

A number of others, including Ms Wolf, defended her performance and her decision to poke fun at Ms Sanders.

Now, during the premiere of her new Netflix show, The Break, the 32-year-old once again defended her performance at the journalists’ dinner and insisted her routine had nothing to do with Ms Sanders’ physical appearance.

“That was not a looks-based joke, that was about her ugly personality,” she said.

She then added another jab at Ms Sanders, saying she had the “the Mario Batali of personalities”. Mr Batali, a celebrity chef, is the subject of a number of accusations from women who he assaulted them. He is being investigated by the New York Police Department.

Earlier this month, Mr Batali denied the allegations, saying: “I vehemently deny any allegations of sexual assault. My past behaviour has been deeply inappropriate and I am sincerely remorseful for my actions.”

Ms Wolf also poked fun of Gina Haspel, who was recently confirmed as Ms Trump’s new head of the Central Intelligence Energy, having faced questions after her role overseeing torture and at so-called black sites during George W Bush’s so-called war terror.

“Who knew you could waterboard a glass ceiling until it broke,” she said.

“After Gina was nominated, my best friend Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that ‘any Democrat who claims to support women’s empowerment and our national security but opposes her nomination is a total hypocrite’.”

She added: “Well if anyone’s an expert on hypocrites, it’s Sarah Huckabee Sanders.”

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