Michelle Wolf’s Routine Sets Off a Furor at an Annual Washington Dinner

The doyens of Washington did not agree. Mike Allen, a prime voice of the city’s establishment, declared in his newsletter on Sunday: “Media hands Trump embarrassing win.” There were even whispers about a revolt against the Correspondents’ Association by news organizations displeased by the night’s events. (The New York Times stopped attending the dinner in 2008.)

“My aim — and the way I sought to put together the program — was to build the spirit of unity in that room,” Margaret Talev, president of the Correspondents’ Association, said on CNN on Sunday. She pointed out that the dinner had praised Mr. Trump for meeting with aspiring journalists at the White House and featured the story of an Egyptian social activist who was freed from prison with the help of the Trump administration.

She said she regretted that Ms. Wolf’s monologue had overshadowed the rest of the evening, but added: “When the entertainer is a comedian — as has been the case for the last 30 years or so — they are often controversial, they are often to some extent polarizing, or provocative, and it’s a night about free speech.”

Ms. Wolf’s 19-minute set also took on Democrats and the news media itself. She quipped that “it’s kind of crazy that the Trump campaign was in contact with Russia when the Hillary campaign wasn’t even in contact with Michigan,” and joked about CNN’s hyperactive approach to coverage.

“You guys love breaking news, and you did it, you broke it!” Ms. Wolf said. “Good work! The most useful information on CNN is when Anthony Bourdain tells me where to eat noodles.”

Her most cutting joke came at the end, when the 32-year-old comic took direct aim at the journalists in the room. Mr. Trump, she said, “has helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster and now you are profiting from him.”

Kyle Pope, the editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, posted a message on Twitter suggesting that even journalists had had enough of the annual ritual. “The #WHCD debacle was inevitable, destined to be either sycophantic, on one extreme, or mean spirited, on the other. Neither is a good look at a time when trust in media is tenuous. Can we finally all agree to put an end to this thing?”