Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Host Michelle Wolf at last night's White House Correspondents' Dinner. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The White House Correspondents' Dinner ended with a barrage of vulgar anti-Trump jokes by comedian Michelle Wolf, who attacked the appearance of White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who was sitting with her at the head table.

What they're saying: White House officials in the audience thought Wolf's patter went too far, and thought the attacks on Sanders and Kellyanne Conway were too personal.

Be smart: That creates a new hurdle for the White House Correspondents' Association to lure President Trump, who has snubbed the dinner the last two years.

The reaction:

  • ABC's Jon Karl, a WHCA board member, said on "Good Morning America": "I think the comedian crossed the line and this went from poking fun to being mean-spirited."
  • Drudge's banner headline: "SMUT STAND-UP SHOCKS DC!"
  • Trump tweets: "While Washington, Michigan, was a big success, Washington, D.C., just didn’t work. Everyone is talking about the fact that the White House Correspondents Dinner was a very big, boring bust...the so-called comedian really “bombed.” [Fox's] @greggutfeld should host next year! @PeteHegseth."

Why it matters: If the dinner can only attract liberal presidents and liberal comedians, the conclusion is inevitable.

Reality check from Jon Favreau, Crooked Media co-founder and "Pod Save America" co-host:

  • "Comedian ends comedy dinner by saying that Flint still doesn’t have clean water, an attempt to point out Washington’s continued neglect of people who need help. Washington responds with a rigorous debate about the tone and civility of the comedian’s jokes. Perfect."
  • "I really don’t know if I can handle a week of fighting over a comedy speech at a dinner."

How things went off the rails:

  • The Gridiron Club, which hosts another major dinner for Washington reporters, has a rule for its roasters: "Singe, don't burn."
  • And one guest told me a good rule of thumb for comedy is not to attack how people look or who they are.
  • Wolf — an alumnus of "The Daily Show" who has a Netflix talk show coming May 27 — didn't follow either of those, and said after an anatomical joke: "Should've done more research before you got me to do this."
  • She made several uses of a vulgarity that begins with "p," in an audience filled with Washington officials, top journalists and a few baseball legends (Brooks Robinson, Tony La Russa and Dennis Eckersley).

Among the printable jokes:

  • “Just a reminder to everyone: I’m here to make jokes. I have no agenda. I’m not trying to get anything accomplished. So everyone who's here from Congress, you should feel right at home.”
  • "I'm 32 years old, which is an odd age: 10 years too young to hostthis event, and 20 years too old for Roy Moore.”
  • "It's 2018 and I'm a woman, so you cannot shut me up [applause] — unless you have Michael Cohen wire me $130,000. Michael, you can find me on Venmo under my porn-star name: Reince Priebus."
  • "It is kind of crazy that the Trump campaign was in contact with Russia when the Hillary campaign wasn’t even in contact with Michigan.”

Wolf was panned by journo-twitter:

  • CNN's Jeff Zeleny: "It was an embarrassment in the room and surely to the audience at home."
  • N.Y. Times' Maggie Haberman: "That @PressSec sat and absorbed intense criticism of her physical appearance, her job performance, and so forth, instead of walking out, on national television, was impressive."
  • N.Y. Times' Peter Baker: "I would vote to leave the comedy acts to comedy shows and stick to journalism at journalism dinners."

Trump held a counter-programming rally in Washington Township, Mich., where he said:

  • "You may have heard I was invited to another event tonight, the White House Correspondents' Dinner. But i'd much rather be at Washington, Michigan, than in Washington, D.C., right now — that I can tell you." [Cheers]
  • Something new from the rally ... In addition to "Lock her up" (still a thing at Trump rallies), the crowd chanted "Nobel!" when Trump talked about North Korea.

Correspondents' association president Margaret Talev — standing under a banner that said "CELEBRATING THE FIRST AMENDMENT" — began the evening by saying:

  • "The journalists we’re celebrating tonight help keep our democracy healthy."
  • "We reject efforts by anyone, especially our elected leaders, to paint journalism as un-American, to undermine trust between reporter and reader, to cast doubt on the relevance of facts and truth in the modern age. An attack on any journalist is an attack on us all."
  • "This isn’t about protecting the business of journalism. It’s about protecting the rule of law."

The bottom line: Watch for big debate whether to end the dinner as we know it, and whether some news organizations announce they will no longer attend. 

Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily morning newsletter, Axios AM. 

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
Please enter a valid email.
Please enter a valid email.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Subscribed! Look for Axios AM and PM in your inbox tomorrow or read the latest Axios AM now.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in U.K.

Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson. Photo: NurPhoto / Getty Images

A new national lockdown will be imposed in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country topped 1 million.

Details: Starting Thursday, people in England must stay at home, and bars and restaurants will close, except for takeout and deliveries. All non-essential retail will also be shuttered. Different households will be banned from mixing indoors. International travel, unless for business purposes, will be banned. The new measures will last through at least December 2.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The massive early vote

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Saturday had already reached 65.5% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat.
  2. World: Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike — Austria reimposes coronavirus lockdowns amid surge of infections
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  5. States: New York rolls out new testing requirements for visitors.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!