Comedian Michelle Wolf has drawn criticism from political pundits following her comments about White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at Saturday's White House Correspondents' Dinner.
Sanders, who was in attendance and seated on the dais as Wolf made her comments, was mocked for her job performance and also for her appearance. "Every time Sarah steps up to the podium, I get excited because I’m not sure what we’re going to get: a press briefing, a bunch of lies or divided into softball teams," the comedian said during the event. She also compared the press secretary to the villainous, dour Aunt Lydia from The Handmaid's Tale and made comments about Sanders' makeup, saying, "She burns facts then uses that ash to create the perfect smoky eye."
The comments drew the ire of several political pundits, including MSNBC's Morning Joe cohost Mika Brzezinski. "Watching a wife and mother be humiliated on national television for her looks is deplorable," Brzezinski tweeted Sunday morning. "I have experienced insults about my appearance from the president. All women have a duty to unite when these attacks happen and the WHCA owes Sarah an apology."
Wolf responded to Brzezinski's tweet, saying, "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."
The New York Times' Maggie Haberman similarly took issue with Wolf's comments, while also praising Sanders. "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," Haberman tweeted.
Wolf answered Haberman's tweet, writing, "Hey mags! All these jokes were about her despicable behavior. Sounds like you have some thoughts about her looks though?"
Fox News correspondent Ed Henry called Wolf’s comments “disgusting” and “despicable,” saying that Sanders deserved an “apology from the White House Correspondents’ Association.”
Brzezinski went on to criticize the association itself, writing, "The WHCD should be about honoring the best in journalism. Enough with the comedians, enough with the late-night parties. These are serious times for both the free press and the public they serve."
White House director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp also joined Fox & Friends on Sunday morning to defend Sanders following the dinner. “Sarah Sanders has thick skin,” Schlapp said. “She is one tough lady.” Schlapp went on to call Wolf’s comments “mean-spirited” and “disrespectful.”
Meanwhile, many comedians took to Twitter to defend Wolf's comments and argue she had not attacked Sanders' looks. "NO ONE MADE FUN OF HER LOOKS,' tweeted Andy Richter.
Kumail Nanjiani and Kathy Griffin — herself no stranger to controversy after posing for a photoshoot last year with a bloody prop of President Donald Trump's head landed her in hot water — also took issue with critics of Wolf's comments.
"They call you liars. They call Mexicans rapists. They call Muslims murderers. They support white supremacists. But someone calls them out on what they do, & suddenly they’re heroes for not walking out," Nanjiani tweeted in response to Haberman's comments.
Replying to a tweet from Politico's Jake Sherman stating, "Being mean isn't funny," Griffin wrote, "Please point us to the tweets where you said something like this about the President of the United States when he was attacking people at rallies and his supporters were laughing... IT WAS A ROAST."
Comic Dennis Miller had a different take: "What a horrid human being Michelle Wolf is. I’m going to read up on her over the next couple of days and I will have a few brutally mean jokes about her by Wednesday."