The Hill will no longer participate in the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, according to a letter from the publication’s chairman James Finkelstein to the association’s executive director, Steven Thomma. Finkelstein cited the controversial jokes made by comedian Michelle Wolf at Saturday’s event as the reason for the decision, writing that “major reforms” are needed by the association.
Here’s the full letter James Finkelstein, chairman of The Hill, sent to the WHCA pic.twitter.com/bCVrvAf5Fw— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) May 1, 2018
In the letter, Finkelstein quotes the association’s website that reads "We share the belief, held by our country's Founders and enshrined in the First Amendment, that an independent news media is vital to the health of the republic."
“We all agree,” he writes. “But that also means that the dinner must be non-partisan and done without hostility and personal animus toward the party that occupies the White House -- regardless of who is in power.”
He continues that past dinners featured comedians who “made fun of both the media and the Commander-in-Chief in a way that could induce laughs while not being so offensive and vulgar that C-SPAN actually cut off its radio broadcast, as was the case this year for the first time ever.”
He describes Michelle Wolf’s jokes as “out of line for an event that's supposed to be fun -- and fair.”
“The association made apologies, albeit not to the press secretary, only after the pressure compelled it to happen,” he points out.
He concludes that “without major reforms, The Hill no longer wishes to participate in future dinners.”
As Finkelstein points out in his letter, journalists on both the left and the right condemned Wolf’s jokes, particularly those targeting White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and making light of abortion.
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.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 29, 2018
Abortion is not something to joke about or cheer for. I was disgusted by tonight’s comedic routine at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner and, as a member of the White House Correspondents’ Association, will no longer be paying dues to the organization.— Gabby Morrongiello (@gabriellahope_) April 29, 2018
Couldn’t agree more. So much important and amazing journalism this year — that should be the focus, when truth matters and is needed more than ever. It was an embarrassment in the room and surely to the audience at home. https://t.co/vhbnG6tn55— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) April 29, 2018