Monday, May 7, 2018

BTRTN: Who's Really the Awful Comedian? Michelle Wolf, or Rudy Giuliani?

Was it way over the line? Shocking? Disgraceful? Filled with inaccuracies and cruel, unfounded personal attacks? Yes, it was! Rudy Giuliani's recent press blitz is all of the above. Compare that, Steve suggests, to Michelle Wolf's first rate political commentary at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

If you are really into side-splitting, gut-busting comedy that makes you laugh so hard that your thorax begins to compress on your wind-pipe, you may want to think twice about You-tubing Michelle Wolf’s performance at the White House Correspondents' dinner. 

You know, that performance. The one that was condemned by the very organization that hosted the evening, whose President, Margaret Talev, said "Last night's program was meant to offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press while honoring civility, great reporting and scholarship winners, not to divide people. Unfortunately, the entertainer's monologue was not in the spirit of that mission."

Yeah, the one that caused some holier-than-thou older white liberal reporters (most notably Andrea Mitchell) to call on Wolf to apologize.

No, the real reason to go to YouTube and watch it is not for side-splitting one liners. It is to appreciate a gutsy young woman who was willing to be as crude and brutal as the President she taunted, as relentless in her honesty as this administration is in its deceit, and so brilliant in the manner in which she teed up the audience that they only saw a flash of bright metal before the guillotine landed.  It wasn’t comedy. It was all the news that’s fit to print. Thank heaven somebody is willing to carry on without fear or favor.

Now, if you want that side-splitting comedy, I heartily recommend that you watch Rudy Giuliani with Sean Hannity on Fox News on Wednesday night. Rudy was f’in hysterical. He crushed it. That badass Rudy played Hannity like a slide trombone when he slipped in the cow turd that Donald Trump had actually reimbursed Michael Cohen for the hush money to Stormy. Sean was whimpering like a lover betrayed as Rudy proudly showed off that he had far more up-to-date lies than the smelly rotting leftovers that Hannity was still hawking. It was hysterical!! Rudy Giuliani was just flinging it! Rudy was a loose cannon spewing still looser canon, contradicting the White House line on several vital issues, including providing an all-new reason why Donald Trump fired James Comey. Note to Rudy: if there is one thing Donald Trump does not need, it is yet another of his own official spokespeople offering up yet another reason why James Comey was fired.

If you did not have the time to watch the full nineteen minutes of Michelle Wolf’s performance, probably all you know is that she made a joke that appeared to be a harsh insult about Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ physical appearance. In fact, it was actually a joke about how often, how effortlessly, and how relentlessly Sarah Sanders lies to the citizens who pay her salary. If Sarah Sanders was offended by the portion of the joke that made light of her heavy-duty eye make-up, then the White House Press Secretary is packing even less intellectual voltage than we had previously presumed, which was somewhere between dental floss and frozen pizza.

Just for the record, every time I see Sarah Huckabee Sanders flinging her bulbous, odious, self-righteous, and pompous brand of bullshit from the White House podium, I am visually reminded of Ursula the Sea-Witch in The Little Mermaid. (Try getting that out of your head whenever you see her on a news clip!) I have wanted to use that joke a number of times, but a small voice in the back of my head always reminded me that liberals don’t make jokes about physical appearance.

That’s something that only the President of the United States is allowed to do.
Please tell me why Donald Trump is allowed to vilify the physical appearance of campaign rivals, physically handicapped reporters, and women who accuse him of sexually predatory behavior, and liberals are crucified for even stepping near this territory. Damn, that Ursula joke felt good. 

Ah, but there you have it. Thank you, Michelle Wolf. Did anyone bother to notice that she was, at times, simply inverting the mean-spirited viciousness of a Donald Trump stadium show, and showing the Republicans how they would feel if a Democratic President of the United States were equal in coarseness and cruelty to Donald Trump? You go, girl. 
No, it wasn’t pretty. Ms. Wolf said “pussy” four times, which – in all fairness to her many critics – was going way overboard. I mean, she said the word “pussy” three times more than the President of the United States.

Michelle Wolf wasn’t just extruding liberal orthodoxy out of a joke filter, either. Many of her harshest lines were aimed at Dems. “It was crazy that the Trump campaign was in contact with Russia,” she noted, “when the Hillary campaign was not even in contact with Michigan.” That one left a welt. One of Wolf’s most egregious blasphemes of the evening was directed at deceased liberal god Ted Kennedy, who, she mused, would consider Al Franken’s sexual transgressions lukewarm. “That’s crazy,” she imagined Kennedy saying, “I murdered a woman.”  And then there was a smoking insult to Democrats in general: “People think you might flip the House and Senate this November, but you guys always find a way to mess it up. You’re somehow going to lose by twelve points to a guy named Jeff Pedophile Nazi Doctor.”

But Wolf saved her most merciless pounding for the members of the press sitting before her. “The most useful information I get on CNN is when Anthony Bourdain tells me where to eat noodles.” “People want me to make fun of Sean Hannity tonight, but I cannot do that… this dinner is for journalists.” “What would I do without Megyn Kelly? Probably be more proud of women.”
And how about that aforementioned guillotine? Michelle Wolf concluded her remarks by pointing out the inconvenient truth that every journalist in the room is benefiting from Donald Trump. “You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off him.” A few journalists had the guts to applaud. Most stared into their drinks, probably praying they were not going to be the next to be called out by name.

Here’s a theory about why Margaret Talev issued her disdainful disowning. We are in the midst of a raging war about who in America today is telling the truth. The liberal media screams that the current President is a pathological liar, while the President labels the liberal media as “fake news.” Fox claims to be “fair and balanced,” but now operates as a Pravda-like state-owned propaganda vehicle. In the face of the President’s nuclear war on objective truth and reality, the liberal media is perceived by the right to be every bit as biased as Fox News appears to lefties.
Somehow, in this madness, the comedians seem to have emerged as the truth-tellers. A mainstream audience believes Jimmy Kimmel is speaking wisdom and simple truth about healthcare, but that the views of politicians, pundits, and Presidents are skewed by self-preservation, lobbying groups, and ignorance. Maybe the comedians are usurping the role as articulators of our national conscience in a way that news anchors can no longer fill, if only because polarization causes each side to totally vilify the other.

Michelle Wolf was doing as good a job of journalism as many of the people in that room, and maybe that bothered the people in the audience. Indeed, Michelle Wolf is but one voice in a surging tide of first rate journalists who deliver factual news and sharp political commentary in the guise of comedy. John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah, and the cast of Saturday night live are hard to label as merely comedy or entertainment, as these shows are each all or large part political news and commentary. Colbert’s rise is particularly notable, as he rocketed past NBC’s Tonight Show when he changed the focus of his daily monologue to scorching commentary on the Trump White House. Interestingly, his average ratings are far ahead of Rachel Maddow, who recently passed Sean Hannity as the most watched cable news personality.

Perhaps the problem that the Washington Press Corps has with comedians is that they are actually competitors. Ever since Jon Stewart created the genre, the comedians have changed the rules by at once adhering to journalistic standards of accuracy while laughing off any pretense of neutrality, and by reaching a big audience by being entertaining rather than stuffy. The combined effect is that they may actually be more effective in conveying the truth than the traditional news media.

So if the White House Correspondents' Dinner has a problem with Michelle Wolf, maybe they should realize that they simply don’t want the competition. If the Washington Press Corps thinks that Michelle Wolf’s remarks “were not in the spirit of the mission,” then maybe they should give some more thought to their mission.

Maybe the Washington Press Corps should invite a comedian that doesn't represent competition... you know, one of those old-fashioned clowns who tries to make people laugh by appearing oafish, lacking impulse control, ignorant, and completely out of touch with reality.

Maybe next year they should hire Rudy Giuliani. Now that guy is a joke.

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