White House Correspondents' Dinner: Sarah Sanders Huckabee grimaces during savage and controversial Michelle Wolf routine

'What's Uncle Tom, but for white women who disappoint other white women?'

Colin Drury
Sunday 29 April 2018 13:44 BST
Michelle Wolf destroys Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the White House Correspondents Dinner

Ahead of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was “important” for presidential staff to attend.

She may today be wishing she herself had not bothered.

Donald Trump’s press secretary was subject to an astonishing barrage of mockery by comedian Michelle Wolf during the black tie event for members of US media and government.

And the brutal roasting – which attacked both her job performance and appearance – has caused controversy and divided opinion.

“We have Sarah Huckabee Sanders,” the 32-year-old comedian said a few minutes into her routine. “We are graced with her presence. I love you as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale.”

The reference – Aunt Lydia is an evil disciplinarian in the show – was arguably one of Ms Wolf’s kinder barbs. From there things went downhill.

“Every time Sarah steps up to the podium, I get excited,” the skit continued.

“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,” – a reference to a CNN correspondent who has clashed with the press secretary.

Amid equal groans and laughs – and with Ms Sanders sat stony-faced – Ms Wolf 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.”

An in an apparent critique of Ms Sanders' feminist credentials, she asked: “What's Uncle Tom, but for white women who disappoint other white women?”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the 2018 White House Correspondents' Dinner
Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the 2018 White House Correspondents' Dinner (Getty)

The prestigious annual dinner, held at the Hilton hotel for 3,000 people, regularly sees severe political roastings - normally of the current president who generally attends. But with Mr Trump refusing to turn up for a second year running, many felt the attacks on Ms Sanders went too far.

Former press secretary Sean Spicer called the performance a “disgrace”, and presidential assistant Mercedes Schlapp walked out.

Maggie Haberman, the New York Times White House correspondent, tweeted: “That @PressSec sat and absorbed intense criticism of her physical appearance, her job performance, and so forth, instead of walking out, on national television, was impressive.”

Comedian Tim Young said the routine went beyond comedy and showed “hatred”.

But others felt Ms Sanders was fair game.

New York Times commentator Wajahat Ali questioned why people should be offended

“Are you kidding me” he tweeted. “They were solid, cutting jokes. Sarah can dish it, so she should be able to take it. For 90 seconds.”

He added: "These are grown adults who defend & promote a President & administration that has said vile things. "

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