CNN Panel Tries to Excuse Michelle Wolf; Trump ‘Goes Over the Line All the Time’

As part of the liberal media’s ongoing damage control following Saturday’s disastrous White House Correspondents Dinner (WHCD), Monday’s New Day saw some CNN personalities concede that some of comedienne Michelle Wolf’s jokes crossed a line, but expressed resignation and tacitly defended it as if it’s a new normal because President Trump “goes over the line all the time” and “comedy's supposed to be uncomfortable.”

The excuses reliably deployed when liberals screw up were plentiful with co-host Alisyn Camerota stating in a tease for a segment on the WHCD that “[c]ritics say [Wolf] gave President Trump ammunition in his war with the media.” 

 

 

Because, of course, it’s about giving conservatives or Republicans “ammunition.” This is just like the tired line about conservatives “pouncing” on a liberal controversy or scandal.

Co-host Chris Cuomo started the segment by noting the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) statement acknowledging that “the entertainer's monologue was not in the spirit” of the dinner’s “mission” of celebrating journalism.

The Associated Press’s Julie Pace tried to have it both ways, admitting that “some of the criticism is warranted” but then excused Wolf’s routine by arguing that “[s]he was not there speaking for” or “[r]epresenting the press corps.” That excuse falls apart when noting the fact that the WHCA picks the comedian who performs each year.

Cuomo wondered if the WHCA could have asked Wolf for an idea of what she was going to say beforehand, but Pace responded by implying that doing so would be censorship. The CNN co-host countered that it’s your event and, considering the “nation’s being ripped asunder,” it would have helped and he’s even done so in the past when emceeing events.

Just like she did in the tease, Camerota didn’t bemoan Wolf’s crassness, but instead how the President “has made hay of this, talked about how, you know, offensive it was, how embarrassing it was.”

The show then aired a mash-up from some of the President’s more crude and arguably distasteful remarks dating back to 2006. Cuomo fretted that he didn’t think the video “was a very good representation of some of the really ugly and intentionally divisive things that this President says” because there’s too many to count.

Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter replied that his suggestion for a future WHCD would be having someone read “Trump’s words out loud” and see if people notice them. Hilariously, Stelter spread some pure fake news when he argued that while it “wasn’t fun for George W. Bush” to be mocked at the dinner, but “it wasn’t fun for Barack Obama either.” 

If being heaped with praise and appearing before an adoring crowd of supporters counts as not “fun,” Stelter doesn’t know what that word means.

Despite his love for the event, Stelter also tried to have it both ways by condemning the President’s decision not to attend but then dismissing the hubub because “most Americans don't care about this.” The senior media correspondent put the onus on Trump because he’s “changed this entire conversation” on our discourse and thus “[e]verything is political now and even raunchy jokes told at a fun dinner are — is now political.”

Cuomo gave a fervent defense of Sarah Huckabee Sanders from Wolf’s attacks, but then he and Stelter explained away Wolf’s routine (click “expand” for more):

CUOMO: Yes. That's the irony is that people are complaining, Trump backers, that she went over the line, when he goes over the line all the time —

STELTER: And that's why I think it’s so complicated.

CUOMO: — and they say nothing to him —

STELTER: That's why so many viewers —

CUOMO: Say nothing about it.

STELTER: — are listening to this thinking, wait a second, why do you all care what a young comedian said? The President has changed all these conversations. That’s the thing.

CUOMO: She's joking. He's actually telling his truth — you know, he's telling his truth when he says these things. 

STELTER: And Wolf's argument is, she wasn't talking about Michelle — she wasn't talking about Sarah Sanders looks. Michelle Wolf's argument is, I was talking about her “despicable behavior.”

CUOMO: Yes.

STELTER: Everything's upside down and, frankly, comedy's supposed to be uncomfortable. Maybe it's a good thing people in that room were uncomfortable.

To see the relevant transcript from CNN’s New Day on April 30, click “expand.”

CNN’s New Day
April 30, 2018
6:32 a.m. Eastern [TEASE]

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Coming Up; Comic Controversy]

ALISYN CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, did comedian Michelle Wolf go too far at the White House Correspondents Dinner? Critics say she gave President Trump ammunition in his war with the media. We discuss all of it, next. 

(....)

6:36 a.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Comic Sparks Controversy with WH Dinner Monologue]

MICHELLE WOLF [on 04/28/18]: We are graced with Sarah's presence tonight. I have to say, I'm a little star struck. I love you as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaids Tale. [SCREEN WIPE] I actually really like Sarah. I think she's very resourceful, like she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like, maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's lies. It’s probably lies.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trending Now; Comic Sparks Controversy with WH Dinner Monologue]

CHRIS CUOMO: Hash tag awkward. Comedian Michelle Wolf's roast at the White House Correspondents Dinner sparking controversy, forcing the association to issue a response. Here it is. “Last night's program was meant to offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free speech [sic] while honoring civility, great reporting and scholarship winners, not divide people. Unfortunately, the entertainer's monologue was not in the spirit of that mission.” Maybe next time, ask the performer what they're planning on doing. The President blasting the dinner as an “embarrassment” and Wolf's monologue as “filthy.” Let's bring in CNN political analyst Julie Pace. She's on the WHCA's board, and host of Reliable Sources, Brian Stelter. So, let's start with you, Julie. How do you feel about the reaction? Is it too much? Is it too little? I had to be coaxed, you know, into doing this because, you know, who cares about nerd prom in the first place.

BRIAN STELTER,: Hey. 

CUOMO: But it's become an issue. Do you think the criticism is warranted? 

JULIE PACE: Look, I think some of the criticism is warranted and I think that, at most, people who I've talked to afterwards who were in the room felt like some of the more personal attacks did cross a line. I also think, though, that it's important to note that Michelle Wolf is a comedian. She was not there speaking for the press corps. She does not represent the press corps.

CAMEROTA: Yeah.

PACE: And I also think, though, that it is important to note, as we kind of discuss all the fallout from this, that one of the things that tends to hurt journalists standing with the public is when we take ourselves a little too seriously and overstate our own importance and overstate how much this is probably affects real people. 

CAMEROTA: Yeah

PACE: So while I think it's a worthwhile conversation to have, I would venture that most Americans this morning are not too worked up about this. 

CAMEROTA: But, Julie, because you're on the White House Correspondents Association, or connected with it, could you have asked her beforehand, what are your jokes? Could you have given her — I mean, I know freedom of speck, but, obviously, you could guide what somebody's going to say. Can you say like take down your normal riff a notch? 

PACE: I don't think you really can. I mean, that is the beauty and the messiness of the First Amendment, that you both, as a citizen, have the opportunity to say whatever you want in whatever form you want

CUOMO: But, Julie, you don't have to go in blind —

PACE: — and then you have the opportunity to disagree with it. 

CUOMO: It's not about the right to do it. It's not about the right to do it. It's about it being right to do it and if you say, well, this year we want a tone of civility and we want to try and lower the temperature because the, you know, nation's being ripped asunder and let's try and do it a little differently tonight, you could have had that conversation. I mean I have that happen all the time when I'm MC-ing events. They come up to me and say, hey, what are you going to say, because this is what's important to us tonight and they don't tell me what to say —

PACE: I think it is — I think —

CUOMO: But she could have had her freedom and still you could get a head sense of what she was going to do. 

PACE: — I think it — I think there is a really fine line that we, as journalists, though, have to — have to be careful not to cross. If we're going to be talking about tone, that's one thing. I think that's fine. But, also, we're not going to be able to censor someone and we shouldn't be able to censor someone.

CUOMO: But I don't think it's censorship, but I take your point.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trending Now; Trump Assails WH Correspondents’ Dinner as an “Embarrassment”]

CAMEROTA: President Trump, Brian, has made hay of this, talked about how, you know, offensive it was, how embarrassing it was. This is why journalist and why the White House Correspondents Dinner is such a joke, et cetera, et cetera. As you know, President Trump has made lots of off-color jokes and offensive —

STELTER: What? 

CAMEROTA: Okay. I'm glad you're testing us. 

STELTER: Seriously? 

CAMEROTA: We do have — we do have the proof. Here's the evidence. 

CUOMO: Some. 

DONALD TRUMP [on 11/24/15]: Ah, I don't know what I said. Ah, I don't remember. [SCREEN WIPE] [in December 2016] Rosie O'Donnell's disgusting. I mean both inside and out. You take a look at her, she's a slob. [SCREEN WIPE] [on 07/18/15] He's a war hero –=

FRANK LUNTZ [on 07/18/15]: Five and a half years in a POW camp.

TRUMP [on 07/18/15]: He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, OK? I hate to tell you [SCREEN WIPE] [on 08/19/15] Jeb Bush is a low energy person. For him, to get things done is hard. [SCREEN WIPE] [on 03/10/18]  Maxine Waters, a very low I.Q. individual. [SCREEN WIPE] [on 11/11/17] We have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas. 

CUOMO: Pat on the shoulder of the Native American.  Now, we — our dispute before this, Julie, just to bring you in on the family conversation was, I did not think that that was a very good representation of some of the really ugly and intentionally divisive things that this President says as a matter of course, as a matter of course. It’s a matter of searching.

STELTER: Yes, but to be fair, we only have an hour. 

CUOMO: Right. And this was — these were supposed to be his jokes. 

CAMEROTA: Right. But my point was that these — I mean he said some of those — Pocahontas, he's joking, he says. 

CUOMO: So we were doing jokes, apples to apples, jokes to jokes.

STELTER: Well, I think I’ve solved the White House Correspondent Association's problem. I think it's pretty simple. Here's all we have to do. Next year's comedian gets up on stage, just reads President Trump's words out loud. Some of those controversial comments. See if they sound like jokes when they're read from a stage. That is actually the —

CUOMO: Avlon had a good idea, that person — that person —

CAMEROTA: Like celebrity autobiography, read the lines.

STELTER: That might be the answer.

CUOMO: John Avlon says that person should be dressed as Abraham Lincoln. 

STELTER: That's' also really interesting.  We're going to solve all the association's problems because it's really — this is a problem. Let's face it. I know most Americans don't care about this, but the association, within the organization, there is a lot of dissent and disagreement about what the right approach is, whether there should be a comedian, how far is too far. I do think, as with everything else, Trump has changed this entire conversation. Everything is political now and even raunchy jokes told at a fun dinner are — is now political and that’s the result.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trending Now; Trump Assails WH Correspondents’ Dinner as an “Embarrassment”]

CUOMO: Right. But it wasn't fun for Sarah Sanders. We talked about this before on the show with Saturday Night Live.

STELTER: It wasn't fun for George W. Bush. It wasn't fun for Barack Obama. 

CUOMO: I got you, but these —

STELTER: He sat there.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trending Now; Did Comedian’s Attack on Sarah Sanders Go Too Far?]

CUOMO: — here's the thing. You can call these guys stupid. They don't get their things done. You made jokes about them. It's fine. I do think, though — and, Julie, please weigh in on this. Alisyn and I have talked about it on the show before. I don't know why they go at her looks. When Saturday Night Live did it, and they were making fun of her weight and her looks, I thought it was mean. I don’t think making fun of looks is funny unless the person is like so beyond approach, it's like making fun of a supermodel or like the guy who plays Superman or something, then it's funny because the guy is known for being good looking, but I thought that that was a clear line that was passed here with this comedian as she went after Sarah for her looks and she had to sit there and take it. I thought that — you know, that sucked.

PACE: It's a — it's a cheap shot and I think that a lot of people have felt the same way when the President has — has made cracks about people's looks as well. I've said —

CUOMO: Yes. That's the irony is that people are complaining, Trump backers, that she went over the line, when he goes over the line all the time —

STELTER: And that's why I think it’s so complicated.

CUOMO: — and they say nothing to him —

STELTER: That's why so many viewers —

CUOMO: Say nothing about it.

STELTER: — are listening to this thinking, wait a second, why do you all care what a young comedian said? The President has changed all these conversations. That’s the thing.

CUOMO: She's joking. He's actually telling his truth — you know, he's telling his truth when he says these things. 

STELTER: And Wolf's argument is, she wasn't talking about Michelle — she wasn't talking about Sarah Sanders looks. Michelle Wolf's argument is, I was talking about her “despicable behavior.”

CUOMO: Yes.

STELTER: That — you know, everything's upside down and, frankly, comedy's supposed to be uncomfortable. Maybe it's a good thing people in that room were uncomfortable.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trending Now; Trump Assails WH Correspondents’ Dinner as an “Embarrassment”]

CAMEROTA: Alright, there's more to talk about with this, but we'll have on to rely on Chris's Twitter feed.  Julie Pace, Brian Stelter, thank you very much.

CUOMO: And it is vibrant. 

NBDaily Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats CNN New Day Video Government & Press White House Correspondents Dinner Alisyn Camerota Julie Pace Chris Cuomo Brian Stelter Donald Trump Sarah Huckabee Sanders Michelle Wolf
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