It sometimes looks as if everyone is part of an elaborate practical joke, as if an episode of the old MTV show Punk'd had somehow managed to pull off a years-long scheme featuring a cast of millions. In this episode of the show, the entire continent lost its collective mind and suddenly decided to hold comedians to a higher standard than world leaders, all with the consent and assistance of the media.
This past weekend at the White House Correspondent's Dinner, Daily Show contributor, comedian Michelle Wolf, delivered a blistering roast of the Donald Trump administration, including noteworthy jabs at White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
I won't rehash the routine or address the jokes themselves, because none of that matters. It's become standard for everyone to Monday-morning-quarterback what is actually a difficult job for comedians, playing to a tough room for one of the worst audiences.
I expect this kind of ignorance from Trump supporters. It's clear their defence of him is undying and based upon the same resentment of everyone else that fueled their votes in the first place. Their hypocrisy and phony outrage today is as expected as it is laughable, with their sad cries of feeling beaten up by a comedian after spending years telling us that they love how Trump "tells it like it is," and isn't "politically correct."
What stuns me is the absurdity that has unfolded over the past couple of days as I've watched the media, many of whom are educated adults, both miss the point of Wolf's act and then give credence to the weak-winded bluster of those she roasted. There's a lot of pearl clutching by an industry that has spent the past few years normalizing the very behaviour they pretend is shocking.
Lost in this conversation is that it's not actually the media's job to just argue back and forth about whether or not a comedian is being mean or not
No, Wolf didn't mock Sanders' appearance. Yet journalists such as Maggie Haberman from The New York Times still complained. Even sometimes voice-of-reason Mika Brzezinski from MSNBC let the actual punchline go over her head and thought the dig was about Sanders' looks, because she apparently only heard the word "makeup."
Trump has mocked people's appearance for years, insulted women and generally behaved like a parody of a TV politician. The result has been mostly shrugs from the same media that actually debated whether or not then-president Barack Obama should have worn a tan suit.
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Lost in this conversation is that it's not actually the media's job to just argue back and forth about whether or not a comedian is being mean. It's actually the media's job to inform everyone of the odd standard that the comedian is being held to compared to the president. I can't imagine a time where Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow would have shook their heads in disdain at a roast by a comic onstage while wiping their hands clean at normalizing the same behavior in an elected official and his entire administration.
If we're such a politically correct society, then why are politicians the only people we're not angry at for behaving like vulgar children? And if it's the comedian who was paid to do exactly what she did whom we're going to be treating like the adult in the room, then maybe it's really the media that has become the joke.
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