In the hours after Michelle Wolf’s egregious performance at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, many on the right called for Wolf to apologize. Wolf has refused, stating that she was “very happy” with her performance — which she should be, since we’re still talking about it days later. Wolf knew full well what she was doing, and she knew that it would make her career, just as it helped launch Stephen Colbert in 2005 into the celebrity stratosphere to attack President Bush from the podium.
Wolf explained, “I wouldn’t change a single word that I said. I’m very happy with what I said, and I’m glad I stuck to my guns.”
Now, as I wrote yesterday, her performance stank. She wasn’t funny. She was deliberately offensive in lieu of humor. She was unoriginal, and her abortion joke in particular was morally bereft. But Wolf did exactly what she was hired to do: be Wolf. As she said, “I knew what I was doing going in. I wanted to do something different. I didn’t want to cater to the room … I wanted to cater to the outside audience, and not betray my brand of comedy.”
Now, she did cater to the room. There’s hardly a safer space in America for a Left-wing comedian than the Correspondents Dinner. But why should she apologize for doing what she’s always done? The White House Correspondents’ Association has apologized for her routine, but they hired her knowing her work.
Here’s why this matters: Americans should stop apologizing for participating in the public debate in controversial ways that don’t call for violence, or that don’t betray their actual worldview. Last week, Chance the Rapper apologized for saying black Americans didn’t need to vote Democrat, because he apparently rubbed some people the wrong way. That was dumb. Kathy Griffin, by contrast, should have apologized, because she was essentially approving violence. And Joy Reid should have apologized, but only because her viewpoints changed, or at least she felt her old comments didn’t reflect her viewpoint.
But Wolf didn’t call for violence, and her viewpoints didn’t change. She told some rotten jokes.
So, leave Wolf alone — at least as far as the apology routine goes. Criticize her — I certainly have. Talk about the perversity of her worldview — I certainly have. But let’s stop expecting people to apologize for doing exactly what they make their money doing.