Were Michelle Wolf's Sarah Sanders Jokes Really So Outrageous? Wolf's Act Vs. Previous WHCD Hosts'

Michelle Wolf has been criticized for what some percieved as jokes about Sarah Huckabee Sanders' appearance — but other White House Correspondents' Dinner hosts have gone further

Though President Donald Trump skipped the White House Correspondents’ Dinner — an event almost always attended by sitting presidents — for the second year in a row on Saturday, the event still managed to be controversial.

That’s due to jokes delivered by the evening’s host, comedian and writer Michelle Wolf, a Daily Show personality whose Netflix talk-show series, The Break, debuts May 27. She’s generating plenty of buzz — both negative and positive — as criticism mounts over the content of her jokes, specifically the ones she made about White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who attended the event on Saturday.

“I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful,” said Wolf as Huckabee Sanders watched from a few feet away. “But she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smokey eye. Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.”

After some critics, including New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman and Trump foe Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, criticized Wolf for what they perceived as cracks about Sanders’ appearance, Wolf fired back on Twitter:

“Why are you guys making this about Sarah’s looks? I said she burns facts and uses the ash to create a *perfect* smoky eye. I complimented her eye makeup and her ingenuity of materials.”

From President Trump himself to White House Correspondents’ Association president Margaret Talev, several influential people have come out against the remarks. The president tweeted that Wolf “bombed” and described the dinner as “embarrassing,” while Jimmy Kimmel and more stars have come to Wolf’s defense.


But how do Wolf’s jokes compare to zingers from previous hosts, who poked fun at presidents and other D.C. elites who were present?

In 2006, host Stephen Colbert skewered President George W. Bush for photos that were taken of him at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks; amid Hurricane Katrina’s destruction; and on the USS Abraham Lincoln with a “Mission Accomplished” banner in the background in 2003, when the worst of the Iraq war was yet to come.

“I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things,” said Colbert. “Things like aircraft carriers, and rubble, and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message: that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound — with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.”

RELATED VIDEO: President of WHCA Admits Problems with Michelle Wolf’s Jokes: ‘Not in the Spirit of [Our] Mission’

More recently, Cecily Strong in 2015 commented on President Barack Obama and ISIS. “Even us at SNL got criticized this year for making fun of ISIS. I think that’s unfair. I mean, if anyone is guilty of taking ISIS too lightly, it’s him,” she said, gesturing at then-President Obama.

Read on for more of the most memorable lines from recent years, including Hasan Minhaj suggesting that Trump is only delaying the apocalypse when he golfs and Joel McHale saying Nancy Pelosi’s face doesn’t show emotion.

2017: Hasan Minhaj

On hosting the event:
“I would say it is an honor to do this, but that would be an alternative fact. It is not. No one one wanted to do this so of course it falls in the hands of an immigrant. That’s how it always goes down.”

On Kellyanne Conway:
“Even if you guys groan, I’ve already hired Kellyanne Conway. She’s gonna go on TV Monday and tell everyone I ‘killed.’ It really doesn’t matter.”

On Vladimir Putin and Trump skipping the event:
“We have to address the elephant not in the room. The leader of our country is not here. But that’s because he’s in Moscow.”

On Trump’s golf days:
“Every time Trump goes golfing, the headline should read, ‘Trump golfing. Apocalypse delayed. Take the W.’ ”

On Frederick Douglass:
“Frederick Douglass isn’t here, and that’s because: He’s dead. Someone please tell the president!”

On Afghanistan:
“Historically, the president usually performs at the correspondents’ dinner, but I think I speak for all of us when I say he’s done far too much bombing this month.”

2016: Larry Wilmore

On Beyoncé and Megyn Kelly:
“Fox News actually tried to convince America that Beyoncé was anti-cop after her Black Panther-inspired performance at the Super Bowl. At the most she’s anti-pants. I think Fox News secretly likes Beyoncé, though. They just renamed The Kelly File ‘Becky With the Good Hair.'”

On former President Bill Clinton:
“I have to say about the first lady [Michelle Obama], it’s so nice to have dinner with you. She’s the epitome of grace, class and poise, isn’t she? Not to be confused with the future first gentleman, Bill Clinton, whose three favorite strippers are Grace, Class and Poise.

On Ben Carson:
“All I’m saying is that in less than eight years, Mr. President, you have busted two time-honored stereotypes: black does crack, and apparently once you go black it looks like we are going back. Thanks, Ben Carson.”

On Fox News:
“Welcome to negro night here in Washington. Or as Fox will report, two thugs interrupt elegant dinner in D.C.”

On the Panama Papers:
“There are so many rich, powerful people in this room. It’s so nice to finally match the names to the faces of the people in the Panama Papers.”

2015: Cecily Strong

“Even us at SNL got criticized this year for making fun of ISIS. I think that’s unfair. I mean, if anyone is guilty of taking ISIS too lightly, it’s him [gestures at then-President Obama].”

On the Secret Service under Obama:
“[The Secret Service is] the only law enforcement organization in the country that will get in trouble if a black man gets shot.”

On politicians having affairs:
” ‘It is great to be here at the Washington Hilton,’ is something a prostitute might say to a congressman. I bet when the president walked in tonight and saw the bellhops, he probably thought, ‘Finally, some decent security.’ ”

On Hobby Lobby:
“I do love Hobby Lobby. I picked up the cutest wicker basket to hold all my morning-after pills!”

On Hillary Clinton:
“I think she feels the same way Meryl Streep feels when she’s asked to audition for something: ‘Are you kidding me? You’re making me go through this? You know I’m going to win.’ ”

On Fox News:
“Fox News has been losing a lot of viewers lately, and may they rest in peace.”

2014: Joel McHale

On Paul Ryan:
“Mr. President [Obama] — or, as Paul Ryan would call you, another inner city minority taking advantage of the federal government to feed and house your family.”

On Chris Christie:
“This will be short and amusing, just like Chris Christie’s presidential bid.”

On the Kardashians:
“I can tell the Kardashians are Republicans, because they’re always trying to screw black people.”

On Washington, D.C.:
“It’s an honor to be here in Washington, D.C., the city that started the whole crack-smoking mayor craze.”

On Florida:
“Between Rob Ford, Justin Bieber, and Ted Cruz, you just want to tell Canada, ‘Hey, relax—we already have a Florida.’ ”

On the Bush family:
“Jeb Bush might announce that he’s running. Wow, another Bush in the White House. Is it already time for our every-ten-years surprise party for Iraq?”

On Obama, Hitler and Stalin:
“Mr. President, your critics have compared you to Hitler and Stalin, but that’s ridiculous. You look way older than them.”

On Chris Hayes:
“I am a big fan of that lesbian on MSNBC, Chris Hayes.”

On Nancy Pelosi’s appearance:
“I’m not going to spoil the surprise on House of Cards, but just know that it was so shocking that Nancy Pelosi’s face almost changed its expression. Did you like that one, Nancy? I can’t tell.”

On Pussy Riot:
“Instead of being shipped off to a gulag, I’m going to the Vanity Fair after-party. This is America, where everyone can be Pussy Riot.”

On former President Bill Clinton and cigars:
“Hillary’s daughter Chelsea is pregnant which means in nine months we will officially have a sequel to Bad Grandpa. It also raises the question, when the baby is born, do you give Bill Clinton a cigar?”

On how the celebrities looked:
“There’s a lot of celebrities here tonight; they’re the ones that don’t look like ghouls.”

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