The TIME 100 Gala was last night, in case you missed it — I’m sure my invite was lost in the mail. BUT ANYWAY. The event celebrates the honorees chosen by TIME Magazine as the 100 most influential people of the year. And this year’s list was pretty great actually! Sandra Oh was on there, and Captain Marvel, and Michelle Obama! And so were Donald Trump and Mark Zuckerberg, because the thing about the Time 100 list is that “most influential” is in no way a value judgment. It’s not about having a net positive or negative impact, it’s about having a LARGE ENOUGH impact. Which, I mean, I get it. I could find a forgotten $20 bill in my coat pocket and also get crapped on by a bird, and both things would have a notable impact on my day!
But just because the magazine doesn’t make qualitative judgments, it doesn’t mean the honorees themselves don’t. Which brings me to Hasan Minhaj, who made the list as a “Pioneer” this year thanks in large part to the groundbreaking news commentary he offers up on his Netflix series, Patriot Act. He was invited to give a toast during the Gala Tuesday night, and he used his time to reflect on the freedoms we take for granted before turning his attention to another honoree, Loujain al-Hathloul — who was not able to attend the Gala, because she is in prison in Saudi Arabia. You see, al-Hathloul is one of the activists who has consistently fought for change in her country, especially when it comes to women’s rights. But even as her work helped push Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to lift the women’s driving ban, it also made her a target — because as much as the Crown Prince may want to be viewed as a reformer, he isn’t a fan of true civil discourse (or any form of criticism whatsoever).
But the thing about gathering a room full of influential figures together is that, gee, some of them might have some equally influential contacts saved on their phone… like say a direct line to the Crown Prince himself?
Minhaj wraps up his toast with this rather pointed “joke”:
This is a very powerful room, and you know, I know there’s a lot of very powerful people here. It would be crazy if there was a high-ranking official in the White House that could WhatsApp MBS and say, “Hey, maybe you could help that person get out of prison because they don’t deserve it,” but that would be crazy. That would be — that person would have to be in the room, but that’s just a good comedy premise.
What he’s referencing, of course, is that Jared Kushner is WhatsApp buds with MBS — and Jared Kushner was in attendance last night. Not because he was an honoree this year, thankfully! Instead, he was invited to speak at the inaugural Time 100 Summit, which took place earlier in the day and gave a number of thought leaders a platform to speak about, I dunno, progress and collaboration? Or, in Jared’s case, to try and talk around the U.S.’s continued political ties to Saudi Arabia despite knowing (or “not disputing”) that the Crown Prince ordered the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi:
But don’t worry, Kushner also took time to argue that, sure, Russia’s interference in our elections wasn’t great, but Mueller’s investigation was way worse for our democracy:
Anyway, no word yet on whether Kushner will take Minhaj’s advice and pull some strings for a good cause, instead of whatever thinly veiled self-interest usually spurs him to action. But for Minhaj’s part, it doesn’t seem like his soapbox stunt caused him any awkwardness at the rest of the Gala:
HE HAD A GREAT TIME ASIDE FROM DRAGGING JARED KUSHNER, OK?!
Header Image Source: Getty Images