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04/30/2018 15:01 EDT | Updated 04/30/2018 15:03 EDT

Michelle Wolf Shouldn't Have Been Attacked By Media For Doing Her Job

Instead of welcoming her free speech and healthy satirizing of the political bubble, we saw right-wing zealots own the narrative by playing the victim card.

Did comedian Michelle Wolf cross the line at the White House Correspondents' Dinner? Was it "deplorable"? The "worst" in a long time? Worth walking out on? "Unnecessarily vulgar, distasteful, vile and not funny"?

The water cooler discussion, the 1990s equivalent of Twitter, had mixed takes on the traditional comedic keynote this year.

It's worth noting that reporters criticizing Wolf's shtick are not from Fox News. They're from outlets that President Donald Trump has called "fake news CNN," "unwatchable" and "bad ratings" MSNBC, and the "failing New York Times."

These mainstream media outlets have not had a cooperative administration in the White House to engage with.

This event is an occasion to celebrate press freedom. In fact, the event played host to presidents dating back to Calvin Coolidge in 1924.

It brings together approximately 2,700 attendees made up of correspondents and their guests to eat, drink and socialize. Since 1983, comedians have been cemented into the schedule, doing performances poking fun at presidents and Washington. For example, comedians that hosted or spoke at the gathering included Bob Hope, Peter Sellers and Richard Pryor.

I wonder if there has been a collective amnesia that has set in. Year-after-year, the comedic performance, regardless of who does it, is framed as incendiary by political insiders and tame by comedy fans. It's a roast.

This year has been criticized even more heavily than usual though. Few commend these performances until years later, like Stephen Colbert's masterful roast of George W. Bush in 2006.

This dinner affords a chance for those in power to laugh at themselves, show humility and prove they don't live in an ivory (Trump) tower.

Republicans aren't the victim

Wolf is a comedian. Her job is to tell jokes. She was hired to do her job.

She was a correspondent on The Daily Show and has been a breakout star. She has a popular HBO special that anyone could have watched before hiring her. None of this was unexpected.

When it was time to step up and defend free speech, the White House Correspondent's Association shamefully threw Wolf under the bus.

Instead of welcoming her free speech and healthy satirizing of the political bubble, we saw Canadian and American right-wing zealots own the narrative by playing the victim card.

Republicans aren't the victim. They are the majority in the House, Senate and have the White House.

Regardless of political stripe, those in elected office need to remember that trust in them is low. People trust comedians to reflect the world around themelves.

Aaron Bernstein / Reuters
Comedian Michelle Wolf performs at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington on April 28, 2018.

Both The Colbert Report and The Daily Show were my most trusted sources of United States news for a long time, and I was not alone in that. Many agree.

While Canada's annual Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner is perhaps less of a comedic romp led by a celebrity comedian, it does provide levity, reflection and our leaders all attend.

Like its counterpart event, it also welcomes co-hosts from the media, comedians like Mark Critch and politicians themselves to step up to the microphone to try their hand at stand-up.

I hear it was better before the cameras turned on though.

I 'm grateful for a rich tapestry of Canadian comedians invited to parody politics: This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Royal Canadian Air Farce, the recently retired Rick Mercer Report, and up-and-comers like National Post's Tristin Hopper, The Beaverton and The Syrup Trap.

More from HuffPost Canada:

The state of satire in our politics matters.

The tenor of political debate can be aggressive and tense, which needs to be cut with a cathartic chuckle every once and a while.

You don't have to like Wolf's jokes, but you should welcome her ability to make them. This is to say nothing of the fact that her jokes were subdued when compared to many things Trump has said.

The press should defend freedom of speech at all costs, including hers. The Republican-dominated room was full of boos, and some media is reporting on it as if Trump's lack of attendance wasn't the biggest issue at hand.

When trust in news is faltering, and we compound it by allowing attacks on comedians offering a check-and-balance to power, then we're really in trouble.

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