Dear White House Correspondents’ Association,
You finally did it. You showed your true colors without writing or saying a word. You confirmed the deep-seated opinion of conservatives in flyover America, who complain about your unwavering commitment to Democrats and your contempt for Republicans.
You did it by laughing it up with the most disgraceful, vulgar act ever to grace the annual dinner you throw to honor yourselves.
In the past few years, leftist comedy acts have become increasingly ugly. And you have become increasingly unaware of just how bad they make you look, as you laugh yourselves into a lather at jokes at least half the country finds utterly unfunny — and patently partisan.
The half of the country that is always turned off is the half that is always the brunt of the toughest, nastiest, jokes: the Republican half.
Yes, you tease your own. The entertainer — this year it was Michelle Wolf — throws a few light brushback pitches at Democrats in power. But your entertainers always save the long, hard stuff for the Right. Just as you do every day in your reporting.
At least you are consistent. When President Barack Obama was in power, you aimed the hard stuff at Republicans. Now that President Donald Trump is in power, you will aim the hard stuff at Republicans.
The comedians do what they do at your annual event because they know the room is filled with people who don’t much care for Republicans. You know it’s true. Very few of you vote Republican. And that’s not just my opinion.
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“As of 2013, only 7 percent of journalists identified as Republicans,” FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver wrote last March, chiding the press for its political homogeneity.
This year, your life in the bubble finally caught up with you. Your hatred of President Trump, and your utter disregard for the Americans who voted for him, was on full display.
You laughed at too many jokes that weren’t jokes. They were hateful personal attacks.
You, the courageous champions of free speech, did nothing while good and decent people — many of whom are professional women you work with every day — received a verbal lashing that should have prompted some of you to say something. Or to walk out.
It was bad enough to listen to a comedian call the current president of the United States a racist. And a p****. You laughed because, deep down inside, you agreed with her.
That’s the thing about jokes. They reveal the bias of the audience, not just the jokester.
Then came the abortion jokes. Here was Wolf attacking Vice President Mike Pence’s stand on the life issue — and half of the country that agrees with him, including millions of women: “He thinks abortion is murder, which, first of all, don’t knock it till you try it. And when you do try it, really knock it. You know, you got to get that baby out of there,” Wolf said. “I know a lot of you are very anti-abortion. You know, unless it’s the one you got for your secret mistress. It’s funny how values can waiver.”
Too many of you laughed at that non-joke.
But the very worst part of Wolf’s act — and your complicity in the act — centered around her attacks on Republican women.
“You guys gotta stop putting Kellyanne on your shows,” Wolf later joked. “All she does is lie. If you don’t give her a platform, she has nowhere to lie. It’s like that old saying: If a tree falls in the woods, how do we get Kellyanne under that tree? I’m not suggesting she gets hurt; just stuck. Stuck under a tree.”
You laughed at that joke. But it wasn’t a joke. It was mean.
Wolf then attacked President Trump’s daughter: “There’s also, of course, Ivanka. She was supposed to be an advocate for women, but it turns out she’s about as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons.”
You laughed at that non-joke.
“She’s done nothing to satisfy women. So, I guess, like father, like daughter.”
Wolf then continued her assault on Ivanka Trump. “She does clean up nice, though. Ivanka cleans up nice. She’s the Diaper Genie of the administration. On the outside, she looks sleek but the inside — it’s still full of s***.”
You laughed at that one, too. Those of us watching at home weren’t laughing. We were stunned — not just at the callousness of the comedian, but at you adults in the room playing along.
Then came the lowest point that any comedian has reached in the history of your dinner.
“And, of course, we have Sarah Huckabee Sanders,” Wolf chided. “We’re graced with Sarah’s presence tonight. I have to say I’m a little star-struck. I love you as Aunt Lydia in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.'”
More laughs. And Sarah Sanders was sitting a few feet from Wolf on the stage, which only made the attack on her looks even worse.
“I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful,” Wolf continued. “Like, she burns facts, and then she uses the ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like, maybe she’s born with it; maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.”
I was waiting for one of you — just one — to start heckling the comic. It’s a grand comedy tradition. It didn’t happen.
The worst part of Wolf’s attack might as well have been an attack on the 52 percent of white women in America who voted for President Trump.
“I’m never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders. You know, is it Sarah Sanders? Is Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Is it Cousin Huckabee? Is it Auntie Huckabee Sanders? Like, what’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women? Oh, I know: Aunt Coulter.”
You laughed at that personal attack, too.
And then there was one final round of gratuitous jokes, this time aimed at a former female Fox News host.
“And, of course, Megyn Kelly,” Wolf said. “What would I do without Megyn Kelly? You know, probably be more proud of women.”
Wolf wasn’t done. “Megyn Kelly got paid $23 million by NBC, then NBC didn’t let Megyn go to the Winter Olympics. Why not? She’s so white, cold and expensive, she might as well be the Winter Olympics.”
It was a nearly five-minute assault on Republican women. You never once expressed disgust with the performance. Not once. So much for the #MeToo movement. I guess it only applies to the liberal sisterhood.
After the performance ended, it didn’t take long for some of you to figure out just how bad the comedian made you all look.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think we advanced the cause of journalism tonight,” Peter Baker of The New York Times said online, in what was the understatement of the year.
Perhaps the most telling tweet of the night came from Meg Kinnard of the Associated Press, who said this: “If the #WHCD dinner did anything tonight, it made the chasm between journalists and those who don’t trust us, even wider. And those of us based in the red states who work hard every day to prove our objectivity will have to deal with it.”
This was your worst night, American journalists.
The smartest man not in the room this past Saturday night was President Trump. He instead went on the road to see the people in flyover country who voted him into office — the very same people too many of you still hold in contempt.
This was your worst night, American journalists. But don’t believe me. Watch the videotape of yourselves on YouTube or the C-SPAN website.
You won’t like what you see.
Lee Habeeb is VP of content for Salem Radio Network and host of “Our American Stories.” He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife, Valerie, and his daughter, Reagan.