“The so-called ‘anti-Trump’ opposition is only concerned with critiquing the president so long as its relationship with the White House remains relatively stable.”
Michelle Wolf was invited to do a standup act for the White House Correspondent’s dinner on April 28th. The event has historically been nothing more than a friendly gathering for the ruling class to toast, joke, and boast amongst themselves. In the era of Trump, however, the event has turned into a litmus test for White House opposition to the orange billionaire who, for the second straight year, skipped the event to hold a rally in Michigan. Wolf’s stand-up act has unleashed a backlash from the most loyal servants of Washington in the corporate media and political class. The focus of the backlash has been on Wolf’s roast of Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a Trump staffer who the corporate media has rarely embraced in the past.
The corporate media has enthusiastically come to the defense of Sanders in the name of “feminism” of all things. Corporate hacks like Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC and Maggie Haberman of the New York Timescriticized Wolf’s act as an attack on women.Their defense of a Trump Administration official indicates much more than the farce of so-called corporate media “resistance” to Trump. Ruling class antipathy toward Michelle Wolf has little to do with her roast of Sanders and everything to do with how the system of imperialism has become a joke in and of itself. US imperialism is a mockery to humanity and the corporate media has desperately attempted to conceal this fact.
“Wolf’s stand-up act has unleashed a backlash from the most loyal servants of Washington in the corporate media and political class.”
The corporate media is angry with Wolf for not groveling over power when it is expected of her. Wolf openly criticized the corporate media for its obsession with Russia and Trump. She critiqued CNN and MSNBC for benefiting from their non-stop coverage of the Commander in Chief. She even went after Hillary Clinton’s campaign for abandoning Americans in Michigan when so many corporate outlets claim that Trump’s campaign communicated with Russians. The Democrats were not exempt in her roast. Wolf’s joke that the Democratic Party would find a way to lose to a candidate named “Jeff Pedophile Nazi Doctor” in the coming elections garnered few laughs from the crowd.
The corporate media coverage has paid little attention to Wolf’s more politically pointed jokes. What is striking is how the corporate media expected Wolf to blast President Donald Trump but hoped that her takedown wouldn’t anger the Administration too much. The so-called “anti-Trump” opposition in the ruling class has shown its true colors. It is only concerned with critiquing the President so long as its relationship with the White House remains relatively stable. The use of “feminism” to protect a so-called adversary merely reflects the low level that the corporate media is willing to stoop in its effort to maintain credentials with the Commander in Chief.
“Wolf openly criticized the corporate media for its obsession with Russia and Trump.”
It is important to remember that the corporate media cares little about women’s rights beyond the concerns of rich, white women. Their defense of Sanders is a defense of the system of imperialism, not Trump. Wolf embarrassed Sanders, but that is standard in American comedy. Sanders is merely a distraction from what the ruling class really hopes to conceal. That is, most Americans don’t trust the corporate media. They don’t trust the President. More importantly, however, most Americans don’t trust the two-party political system at all.
Trump took advantage of low voter turn outto win the electoral college in 2016. Working class and poor Americans, especially Black Americans, either could not get to the polls on voting day or willingly chose not to vote. The reality is that there is nothing to vote for when you are one of the fifty percent of Americans who make $30,000 a year or less. There is nothing to vote for when you are one of the 2.3 million mostly Black and mostly poor people barred from voting due to their imprisonment behind prison walls. Why vote when neither political party can offer healthcare, education, and living wage jobs to the masses?
“The reality is that there is nothing to vote for when you are one of the fifty percent of Americans who make $30,000 a year or less.”
The ruling class must do its best to interpret these conditions to the poor and oppressed in a way that keeps rebellion at bay. Its control over the narrative is crumbling. The US imperial state attacks “fake news” and calls anyone who opposes the official narrative in Washington a “Russian bot.”It is afraid of what will happen should working people, especially Black people, decide to take an independent political path. For however limited Wolf’s comedic act was in the grand scheme of left politics, it certainly appealed to the disaffection of millions in the US who see no hope in any politician or policy that comes out of Washington.
Wolf’s act was indeed limited and rife with selective truth-telling. She attacked the Democrats as ineffective but didn’t say why. Her critiques of political questions such as the Flint, Michigan water crisis didn’t ascribe blame to the Democrats, either. Wolf rightfully exposed the corporate media’s love of Trump but didn’t explain its role in some of the grossest atrocities of our time. She didn’t mention the vicious lies the corporate media has told to justify war in Syria or its brazen defense of Israel. The Democratic Party’s love of Wall Street and war was left off the table. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Wolf has historically leaned Democrat and defended Hillary Clinton after her 2016 loss to Donald Trump.
“The US imperial state attacks “fake news” and calls anyone who opposes the official narrative in Washington a ‘Russian bot.’”
That so much attention has been given to the White House Correspondents Dinner demonstrates that a real left-wing political tendency, even social democratic, has yet to be born from the rot of United States imperialism. US imperialism is losing ground all over the world politically, economically, and culturally. Austerity and mechanization are placing downward pressure on everyone but the very rich, while racism and war continue to subject millions of oppressed people worldwide to the fate of premature death. The political sentiments of most people in the United States are moving against the tide of the establishment. Most don’t believe a thing the corporate media tells them, nor do they become particularly excited about voting in upcoming political elections.
Since no alternative mode of organization exists to give these sentiments a political direction, the politics of imperialism reign supreme. However, a crisis of legitimacy currently afflicts imperialism. This crisis reflects the growing popular dissatisfaction with the conditions of the system. Wolf attempted to harness popular dissatisfaction with the corporate media and the political class. Her act by no means offered anything to the masses concretely, but it certainly reflected the disarray that the ruling class finds itself in.
Where our concern should lie is in how to take advantage of the disarray towards transformative ends. This is a topic few are discussing. The time is now to place pressure on the state to act on behalf of the oppressed and disillusioned. Mumia Abu-Jamaland other political prisoners must be freed. The DPRK and the Republic of Korea must be allowed to enact a peace processfree from the threat of US war. Both Mumia and Korea’s success in their moves to secure freedom will ultimately depend on the support that they receive from a mass movement armed with demands and a plan to achieve them.
“The time is now to place pressure on the state to act on behalf of the oppressed and disillusioned.”
In the final analysis, US imperialism is in no condition to grant any concessions to workers and oppressed people in Black America, or any community for that matter. This is a reality that no joke or comedy bit can properly capture. Michelle Wolf was attacked strongly by the corporate media for her standup act because she embarrassed the professional liars and mouthpieces of the ruling class. When this response proved unpopular, the New Yorkerand other corporate outlets came to her aid. The debate Wolf sparked has ultimately shifted to turning the attention of the people away from US imperialism and on to liberal critiques of Trump. Not a capitalist in the ruling class has any interest in allowing the people to look at the decaying condition of imperialism head on.
The corporate media, the two-party state, and their owners in monopoly and finance capital are locked into a desperate quest for self-preservation amid unending crisis. They are afraid of independent voices becoming organized around a movement that represents the voices of the oppressed and downtrodden. They aren’t afraid of Michelle Wolf. They are afraid that more mainstream figures will realize that their careers depend on the very people that are sick of this system. What we learn from the Wolf debacle is that there is a pressing need to elevate real independent, left-wing voices sothat efforts to free Mumia and to free ‘em all from Philadelphia to Korea have a chance of sustaining momentum in this time of crisis.
Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He is currently writing a book with Roberto Sirvent entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: Essays on Race, Empire, and Historical Memory. He can be reached at [email protected]