Former hosts of the White House Correspondents' Dinner have come to the aid of Michelle Wolf who has unapologetically responded to complaints that her comedic set was offensive and even "deplorable." And several of those former hosts now have their own late night shows — even though their jokes were once criticized in much the same way. Stephen Colbert's defense of Michelle Wolf's WHCD jokes suggests the comedian's burgeoning career will be just fine.
The Late Show host introduced the topic of the controversy, noting the irony of anyone being offended by Wolf, who "didn't pull any punches." Colbert said, "Some people were offended by what she had to say, presumably those people who have been in a coma for the past 2.5 years." Colbert pretended to wake up from a coma with a groan:
They just revived me at 8:58 p.m. on a Saturday night. Who is this vulgar woman? President Hillary Clinton must be so offended.
He noted that the people who were roasted were the administration and the media. "Who got mad? Uhhh... the administration and the media." Colbert even made jokes about how some journalists wrote about Wolf's use of the word p*ssy by calling it a "vulgarity that begins with a 'p'" — even though the president helped introduce the word to many across the country.
Colbert said the most surprising reaction was from the White House Correspondents' Association, which tried to distance itself from Wolf after conservatives and some media personalities objected to the jokes. Margaret Talev, the association's president, even issued a statement noting that "the entertainer's monologue was not in the spirit of the mission," which was to "offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press."
“Look, you didn’t like it? You have that right. Don’t invite her back again. But grow a pair. A pair of whatever you want,” Colbert said. “This is a roast! And you’re the ones who hired Michelle Wolf! Being mad at her for doing her job is like accusing the valet of briefly stealing your car!"
"And stop acting like you’re surprised!" Colbert continued. "I thought news people did research, but you’re telling me you couldn’t spend 90 seconds on YouTube to find out what her act was like? As a great man once said: Fake news.”
Colbert hosted the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2006 and his appearance is now lauded as one the harshest ever. President George W. Bush did attend, and he was the butt of many jokes that addressed his mistakes in the Iraq War, the response to Hurricane Katrina, and more. At the time it similarly received mixed reviews.
The host of Late Show Colbert, though, claimed that he had not hosted the WHCD but rather his alter ego, Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report had. He switched his glasses and his commentary on the matter as his old character, a conservative newsman.
"First, Michelle, let’s address your potty mouth," Colbert said in character. "What the f*ck was up with that? This is the Correspondents’ Dinner celebrating the freedom of speech, you can’t just say whatever you want! You don’t go to a funeral and say exactly what you thought of the person, and what is the annual Correspondents’ Dinner but a funeral for the independent press?”
But that wasn't all. In character, Colbert continued:
And how dare you besmirch the OK name of Sarah Huckabee Sanders? And I am so proud, right down to the breast bone, that the press is defending her despite the fact that her boss joked about throwing reporters in jail. That's the kind of comedy the press likes. More jokes like that, Michelle! Well I hope you realize that no one is ever going to forget about the speech on Saturday night. And they will never forget that you have a new Netflix show. Congratulations. Good luck with that.
Colbert's final point, that Wolf already has a new show in the works, doubles down on his argument, that she did what she was supposed to and would be rewarded for it. His Comedy Central show wasn't cancelled, and now he's top billing for CBS. Wolf's career may well come to mirror Colbert's.