On Saturday night, while Hasan Minhaj was roasting Trump at the Correspondents’ Dinner, and Trump was avoiding that roasting because Trump doesn’t do weekends, Samantha Bee and her team from Full Frontal were taking the meta-approach to an event that celebrates the media by being a show that consistently mocks the media for its inability to properly cover an incompetent asshat as president. And goddamnit if it didn’t work. It might have actually worked slightly better than the actual Correspondents’ Dinner, but we’ll get to that in a second. But first to the videos.
There was the pretaped segment where Allison Janney (hallowed be thy name) reprises her role as C.J. Cregg, and Bee’s opening monologue where she explained the point of the evening while taking some easy, but decent shots at both the White House and cable news.
And what was the larger point of the evening? First and foremost, it was a fundraiser for the Committee to Protect Journalists (and yes, that is the protection of journalists, the actual people who are threatened for doing their jobs, not just the larger institution of journalism which is also in danger). But more broadly, it was a chance to recognize and thank the journalism community for doing well at such a hard job. And to ridicule a few “journalists” for blowing it so magnificently.
See, Not The White House Correspondents’ Dinner had the nifty idea that if they were going to throw a ball-travaganza about the press corp that covers the White House they should make the focus of the evening the press corp that covers the White House. Oh, they still mocked the ever-loving crap out of Trump, but it wasn’t the main event. Also it shouldn’t be the main event anymore because Donald Trump doesn’t give a shit. And the President giving a shit was the only thing that made his roasting important.
In previous years, the President and the media on the whole had an agreement: For one night, the press corp would be the stars, a comedian would get up and say all of the things the press wish they could say to the President, and the President would sit there and take it. It was an exaggerated trust fall. And it was meant to humanize both sides, to an extent, in order to further their working relationship. Or it was nerd prom. The point over the years has gotten blurry. But overall, the jokes at the president’s expense were intended to knock him down a peg for his own good.
And Trump is having none of it.
Maybe he’ll watch Minhaj’s routine at some point because he needs to know what people are saying about him, and there’s a possibility that some of the things said will bother him. But the chance that he’ll take in Minhaj’s words, reflect on them, and change his behavior is slimmer than a rat’s pube. Which means all of the jokes were for our benefit. And that’s not a bad thing necessarily, it’s just not as impactful as speaking truth directly to power. (It’s also why Bee’s jaunt down What Could Have Been Road was my least favorite segment of the night.)
Look, Trump cannot be reasoned with. Bannon won’t be shamed because we call him a Nazi. Ivanka and Jared will not become any less opportunistic assholes just because we call them out on it. The media, in their current capacity, are not able to hold the White House accountable. So they have to hold those associated with the White House responsible, and we hold them accountable. By not listening to garbage websites that don’t have real news, by actually consuming the real news that media organizations are putting forth, and by continuing the overreaching mantra that this administration has tried to kill: facts are facts.