The annual White House Correspondents Dinner was held over the weekend and everyone’s got something to say. Here’s my pocket change into the pot.
Michelle Wolf took no prisoners and for lack of a better phrase, called the mainstream press out on their bullshit. So much of what many reporters do is performative. To be clear, there are reporters doing the grunt work, following up on leads and loyal to the truth. Then there are others who find more favor with access in order to hawk books. They feign outrage over the transgressions of Donald Trump but align themselves with those who condemn political correct culture. They became the snowflakes who melted down because she dared to make plain that news orgs have benefited from this presidency.
However, these pointed comments are being swept under the rug in favor of pearl clutching over the treatment of Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Those at the nerd prom felt that Wolf crossed the line when she roasted that “Sarah Sanders burns facts and uses the ashes to create her perfect smokey eyes.” Admittedly, the jab didn’t offend me. It’s not as if Wolf were mocking someone with disability, boasting about grabbing women by the pussy, calling Mexicans rapists, African nations shitholes and so forth but we all have our limits. Smokey eyes was it for many.
At first glance, many of those circling the wagon for Sanders are white journalists. I’m not saying but I’m saying all the same. It’s just so telling how they circle the wagons but not one POC or WOC has created such a fury. That is also worth an acknowledgment and a sad indictment of where sympathies lay.
The visceral empathy felt by the Andrea Mitchell’s is not often extended when woman of color, particularly Black, are denigrated. April D. Ryan, Joy Reid, Michelle Obama (especially by GOP lawmakers) and so many others have been treated much worse and I don’t remember this level of outrage and demands for an apology.
Two wrongs don’t make a right. The words of former first lady Michelle Obama ‘when they go low, we go high’ may as well be emblazoned on a Starbucks cup at this point given its usage. Everyone says it, either to encourage or mock. It’s a rallying cry to our better angels and simultaneously a demand that we take whatever abuse hurled. For advocates of the First Amendment, one that is threatened by this administration, it’s disheartening that this is what brings out the fire in the belly. The house is on fire and decorum is being insisted upon by those trying to bring awareness to it. Was Michelle Wolf crass? You betcha. Was she wrong in her overall assessments? No.
I’m not an unfeeling monster. I don’t like hurting people’s feelings without cause but I ask that same courtesy be extended. Sarah Huckabee Sanders stands at the podium at press briefings and is often rude, condescending and tells outright lies on behalf of an administration that wants to derail freedom of press. In fact, while everyone there was upset on behalf of Sanders, Trump was in Michigan lashing out at them.
At times, I question why I’m still committed to being a journalist. It’s not easy being a Black woman. There are so many micro aggressions and then you enter a newsroom that doesn’t primarily look like you for the most part. If you’re even allowed in. Still, I keep knocking on that door because there’s a sensitivity chip that seems missing when reporters are in a rush to cover the “hidden voter”, “working class” and “real America” with the assumption that they’re white. They also look a lot like me. I just want to be given the opportunity to tell untold stories and not settle for remote understanding. I’m certainly not going to hold a comedian to a higher standard than the president.
A room full of reporters, responsible for crafting the narrative, laughed out loud as Wolf reminded that Flint, Michigan is still without water.
But yet, Sarah Huckabee Sanders smokey eye is their preferred red line. It speaks more than a few bad jokes.