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Correspondents' Dinner Coverage. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired April 28, 2018 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- Berman alongside Poppy Harlow. We're minutes away from hearing from comedian Michelle Wolf. Let's go back in and listen.

MARGARET TALEV, PRESIDENT, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS' ASSOCIATION: - - Sofia Bulgaria. And he and his brother escaped in the early 1960's because they feared for what their future would be in what was then a repressive communist regime. They came to the U.S. because America welcomed them, and because they longed for the promise that America held. My mother was born American but like our current President she was captivated by the drive and self-determination of a young dashing immigrant.


TALEV: My father is what I would call a George H. W. Bush Republican. My mother was a Democrat and they disagreed about a lot when it came to politics. And I became a journalist in large part because of those debates that unfolded at the dining room table each night. But one thing that they agreed on was that what has always made America great, is the ability to disagree publicly. To have facts, to make informed arguments and the counterarguments for whatever the subject might be, welfare, taxes, war, religion, to speak your mind without fear of beating or arrest or seizure of assets or death.

And journalism gives us the information to do that. My father risked everything to come to this country because of our ideals. And for him, the First Amendment might just have been the most important of all. As I see it, it's my job to do all I can to live up to that legacy and preserve it. Thank you.


TALEV: Thank you. And now - - please turn your attention back to the video screens.


PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Good evening everyone, Paul Ryan here. I'm sorry that the Correspondents' Association decided against my idea to have the dinner in Janesville this year. So, unfortunately I'm not able to be with you there tonight. Instead, Janna and I will spending the evening freshening up my LinkedIn page.


RYAN: You know, I'm looking forward to figuring out whatever's next for me. But I'm going to miss sparing with the press everyday.


RYAN: In fact, boredom is probably my biggest worry for life after Congress. Luckily Boehner texted me the other day and he said he found something that helps him chill out. It's something to do with grass. I don't really know.


RYAN: Anyway, I just wanted to say a quick word to congratulate the young men and women who are receiving scholarships this evening. I was able to visit with them yesterday and it affirmed for me that the future of journalism is indeed bright. My message to the next generation of reporters, it's really simple. Know that what you do matters. There's so much noise out there but our republic does not work without an informed electorate. Pay attention to the policy not just the personalities.

Look at the human impact not just the horserace. And above all, challenge yourself and challenge us, those of us in public office. Because what you do it really matters. It provides transparency and accountability. Done right, journalism can not just inform but empower citizens. Of course, we don't always agree on what's right and what's fair but that push and pull, that makes us both better. It creates a higher standard. It's part of the genius of this country and it will endure through any turbulent time. So tonight, I say cheers to the First Amendment and again offer my congratulations to the scholarship winners. Have a great night.



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That was a pretty remarkable video you just saw from House Speaker Paul Ryan. Saying cheers to the First Amendment, saying journalism is critical to the foundation of this country and will thrive through turbulence. The opposite message of what we heard from the President tonight and the reason why he's not there.

JOHN BERMAN: Look, that is the speech even a short video that President Trump would never do.

HARLOW: Never.

BERMAN: You cannot see him delivering the message that the Speaker of the House did right there.

HARLOW: It's a - - it's a pure defense of journalism.

[22:05:15] HARLOW: Saying he met with the students who are being honored tonight who are a big part of what tonight is all about.

BERMAN: I will say the President did meet with those young journalists. The President and the Vice-President - - HARLOW: Good point.

BERMAN: - - did meet with those young journalists but Paul Ryan speaking to journalists and saying that our democracy depends on you.

HARLOW: Right. It - - it - - it stands in stark contrast to the President and his team fundraising off of him not attending this dinner. Calling it a group of fake news liberals.

BERMAN: Exactly. Douglas Brinkley, CNN Presidential Historian, he is with us here tonight. And again, the history of the White House Correspondents' Dinner, you know, it is interesting. We're waiting to hear from Michelle Wolf. The comedian who will deliver sort of the keynote member of it. It's not like comedians have been there since Calvin Coolidge though.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No, it really began in the Reagan years with Mark Russell in 1983 and he - - he did satire, Washington satire before that it was like Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole.

BERMAN: Not shabby by the way.

BRINKLEY: Real - - I - - you can't compete with Duke Ellington. Ray Charles people like that but then suddenly it became the comedians. And now each comedian has to vie for who's the best, who bombs. There's always a lot of pressure on them and Stephen Colbert is often - -

HARLOW: 2005.

BRINKLEY: - - given is seen as a high water mark. Don Imus kind of shattered the mold of things when he mocked Bill and Hillary Clinton right in front of them and they kind of - - they ended up trying to get CSPAN to not rerun Imus because they were so offended by it.

HARLOW: Well look, you bring up Colbert and that was - - I mean a searing take down if you will, although some - - some in jest, some not in jest of - - of - - of the President at that time. And - - and - - and President Bush sat there and took it. This President has chosen not to for the past two years. We'll see if he ever does - - if he ever does come to one of these. What President has performed the best? Meaning, he has taken the roasting of this and he has performed the best on stage.

BRINKLEY: Without question, Barack Obama. He created an art form with it. The way Jack Kennedy did with the press conference or FDR with Fireside Chats. Obama worked with comedians. He scripted it. At the end of the last one when he dropped the mike, you know, was one of the great moments of it. He killed it all the time, President Obama.

BERMAN: I will say for better or for worst, that was also when the dinner became, you know, a celebrity affair, less about journalism. There were a lot of changes that it has dialed back from that a little bit. We have much more to come including comedian Michelle Wolf who is very, very funny. Just a few minutes away. Stay with us.


[22:11:15] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)



OBAMA: Now I know that he's taken some flack lately but no one is happier. No one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter. Like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?


JOHN BERMAN: Look, a Rorschach test I think for Americans right now. There are people who look at that and say President Obama going after Donald Trump for his role in the "Birther Movement" there was a very funny moment. There are others who will look at it and say, Donald Trump he got the last laugh . He's now President of the United States and as the biographies have been written, some have noted it was at that moment some people say that he decided he wants to be President. You know, whether or not that's 100 percent true, he had toyed with running in 2000.


BERMAN: And other years. All right. Let's go back to the Correspondents' Dinner and listen in.

MARGARET TALEV: - - Karl (ph) to come up to the podium.


OLIVER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT FOR SIRIUS XM: Good evening. First the Aldo Beckman Award, an award for Presidential news coverage that recognizes a correspondent who personifies the journalistic excellence as well as the personal qualities exemplified by Aldo Beckman. The award winning correspondent of the Chicago Tribune and Former WHCA President. The award goes to Maggie Haberman.


KNOX: Listen to the judges. Maggie Haberman's White House reporting showed her deep understanding of what makes President Trump tick. Having covered Mr. Trump as a New York businessman for 20 years, she was able to tap that knowledge of his personality, business operations and inner circle to chronicle the first of year of his Presidency.

Her reporting was nuanced, contextual and multidimensional with rich detail and authoritative sourcing. She often conveyed the feeling of being a fly on the wall of the White House. She also was a generous colleague who shared the fruits of her reporting with others at the Times. Maggie could not be here tonight but Doug Mills of the New York Times will accept the award in her stead.


JONATHAN KARL, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS' ASSOCIATION: First a quick shout out, Brooks Robinson is in the room tonight. Brooks Robinson is here, from Arkansas as our Press Secretary notes. The Merriman Smith Award honors Presidential news coverage under deadline pressure. The award is in memory of the late, great Merriman Smith of United Press International. A White House correspondent for more than 30 years. It is given in two categories, broadcast and print. The Merriman Smith Award for Broadcast goes to Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, Jake Tapper and Carl Bernstein of CNN.


KARL: These four journalists and a number of other CNN reporters broke the story that the intelligence community had briefed President Barack Obama

[22:15:07] KARL: - - and President-elect Donald Trump that Russia had compromising information about Mr. Trump. You may remember that story. The CNN team later reported that then FBI Director James Comey personally briefed Trump about the dossier. The judges called their reporting breaking news at it's very best.


OLIVER KNOX: The Merriman Smith Award for print goes to Josh Dawsey.


KNOX: Josh's story about the resignation of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer grabs the reader from the opening sentence. Dawsey hustled to find a wide assortment of sources and wove a narrative that conveyed the drama of the resignation and held the readers attention. While the resignation story was widely covered, Dawsey reported details others simply did not have beautifully reported and written say the judges. Congratulations.


KNOX: And also congrats to Chris Johnson. Where's Chris? Honorable Mention in the Merriman Smith Award, Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade. Well done lad.


JONATHAN KARL: And I should mention, Honorable Mention by the way for the Merriman Smith Broadcast Award, Lester Holtz of NBC News.


KARL: OK. The Edgar A. Poe Award, the Edgar A. Poe Award nominates - - honors excellence in news coverage - - news coverage of subjects and events of significant national or regional importance to the American people. It is an honor of Edgar A. Poe a long time correspondent from New Orleans Times Picayune and a former White House Correspondents' Association President. In selecting a recipient, the judges will be looking for excellence in stories with fairness and objectivity. So, the Edgar A. Poe Award goes to Jason Szep, Peter Eisler, Tim Reid, Lisa Girion and Grant Smith and Team Reuters for their report "Shock Tactics".


KARL: The judges call the 18 month examination of taser related deaths and litigation stunning, new and disturbing. The series involved impressive reporting from multiple angles revealing the risks of a weapon. It is not supposed to be lethal but often is. The project the judges said is relevant to every community stood out in a sea of powerful contenders. Congratulations.


KARL: And the Honorable Mention for the Edgar A. Smith (sic) Award goes to, make sure I've got this right, Dan Diamond and Rachana Pradhan, Politico for their reporting on Tom Price's private travel. Congratulations.


MARGARET TALEV: And Maggie and her husband all of your family, we're thinking of you tonight.


TALEV: I'd like to call to the stage in a minute the recipient of something called the President's Award. And this isn't something that we award each year. In fact, this is the only second time that we've done it. But the point of the award is to recognize excellence in somebody who helps our members and association succeed. Martha Kumar embodies that. She's the Director of the White House Transition Project, a board member of the White House Historical Association and a Professor Emeritus at Towson.

And as a scholar of the Presidency, Martha's very special stats among other things record and analyze the relationship between journalists and the White House. If you don't know Martha, you can't miss her. She's a compact force of nature, whizzing by with a shock of white hair on a Vespa - -

[22:20:16] TALEV: - - or downstairs in the White House workspace with a pencil and a pad and amazing stats. She's regularly in the briefing room.

She's always at the ready with statistics to help give our stories context and depth. She's a treasure of the press corps. She's a bridge between that first draft at history that we do and the many drafts that come after that. Martha, please join us on stage. Thank you for your important work and congratulations.


TALEV: Oh yes. And now, the first time I saw Michelle Wolf's stand up I thought, what is with that voice. The second time I just gave in and let myself laugh. And at some point as I kept watching her I thought, this woman is actually saying a lot more in between the punch lines. Michelle Wolf was not always a professional comedian. She grew up in Hershey, Pennsylvania, ran high school track and worked at Bear Stearns and J.P. Morgan Chase first. (inaudible) to a Bloomberg reporter would pick.

She's written for Seth Meyers. She had a regular gig on Trevor Noah's show and then well that big HBO special last year. And right after we signed her for the dinner, we found out she was going to be a Netflix series. I don't know when she had time to do this but we're thrilled that you did. She's not really a political comedian by training. She's not of Washington but if 2016 taught us anything it's that we should be listening to more people outside of Washington. And if 2017 taught us anything, it's hey, that's mean women.


TALEV: So without further adieu, please welcome Michelle Wolf.


MICHELLE WOLF, COMEDIAN: All right. This is long. This has been long.


WOLF: Good evening. Good evening, here we are, the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Like a porn star when she says she's about to have sex with a Trump, let's get this over with.


WOLF: Yes kiddos, this who you're getting tonight. I'm going to skip on a lot of the normal pleasantries. We're at a Hilton. It's not nice. This is on CSPAN. No one watches that. Trump is President. It's not ideal. White House Correspondents' Association thank you for having me. The monkfish was fine.


WOLF: And just a reminder to everyone, I'm here to make jokes. I have no agenda. I'm not trying to get anything accomplished. So everyone that's here from Congress you should feel right at home.


WOLF: Now before we get too far, a little bit about me. A lot of you might not know who I am. I'm 32 years old, which is an odd age. Ten years too young to host this event and 20 years too old for Roy Moore.

(LAUGHTER) WOLF: I know. He almost got elected. Yes. It was fun. It was fun. Honestly, I never really thought I'd be a comedian but I did take an aptitude test in 7th grade and this is 100 percent true. I took an aptitude test in 7th grade and it said my best profession was a clown or a mime.


WOLF: Well, first it said clown and then they heard my voice and was like or maybe mime. Think about mime. And I know as much as some of you might want me too, it's 2018 and I'm a woman so you cannot shut me up. Unless you have Michael Cohen wire me $130,000.


WOLF: Michael you can find me on Venmo under my porn star name Reince Priebus.


WOLF: Reince just gave a thumbs up. OK. Now, people are saying America is - -

[22:25:15] WOLF: - - more divided than - - than ever. But I think no matter what you support politically, we can all agree that this is a great time for craft stores. Because of all the - - because of all the protest poster board has been flying off the shelves faster than Robert Mueller can say, you've been subpoenaed.


WOLF: Thanks to Trump, pink yarn sales are through the roof. After Trump got elected, women started knitting those pussy hats. When I first saw them, I was like, that's a pussy? I guess mine just has a lot more yarn on it.


WOLF: Yes. Should have done more research before you got me to do this. Now, there is a lot to cover tonight. There's a lot to go over. I can't get to everything. I know there's a lot of people that want me to talk about Russia and Putin and collusion. But I'm not going to do that, because there's also a lot of liberal media here. And I've never really wanted to know what any of you look like when you orgasm.


WOLF: Except maybe you Jake Tapper. I bet it's something like this. OK. That's all the time we have.


WOLF: It is kind of - - it is kind of crazy that the Trump campaign was in contact with Russia when the Hillary campaign wasn't even in contact with Michigan. (LAUGHTER)

WOLF: It's a direct flight. It's so close. Of course, Trump isn't here if you haven't noticed. He's not here. And I know - - I know I would drag him here myself but it turns out the President of the United States is the one pussy you're not allowed to grab.


WOLF: (inaudible) Now I know people really want me to go after Trump tonight but I think we should give the President credit when he deserves it. Like he pulled out of the Paris agreement and I think he should get credit for that because he said he was going to pull out. And then he did and that's a refreshing quality in a man. Most men are like, I forgot. I'll get you next time. Oh there's going to be a next time? And people say romance is dead.


WOLF: People call Trump names all the time. And look, I could call Trump a racist, or a misogynist or xenophobic or unstable or incompetent or impotent. But he's heard all of those and he doesn't care. So tonight, I'm going to try to make of the President in a new way. In a way that I think will really get him. Mr. President, I don't think you're very rich. Like, I think you might be rich in Idaho, but in New York you're doing fine.


WOLF: Trump is the only person that still watches "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" and thinks me. Although I'm not sure you'd get very far. He'd get to like the third question and be like, I have to phone and Fox and Friend.


WOLF: We're going to try a fun new thing. OK. I'm going to say Trump is so broke and you guys go, how broke is he? All right. Trump is so broke,


WOLF: He has to fly failed business class. Trump is so broke,


WOLF: He looked for foreign oil in Don Jr.'s hair. Trump is so broke,


WOLF: He - - Southwest used him as one of their engines. I know it's so soon. It's so soon for that joke. Why did she tell it? It's so soon. Trump is so broke,

(HOW BROKE IS HE?) WOLF: He had to borrow money from the Russians and now he's compromised and not susceptible to blackmail and possibly responsible for the collapse of the republic. Yay. It's a fun game. Trump is racist though. He loves white nationalists, which is a weird term for a Nazi. Calling a Nazi a white nationalist is like calling a pedophile a kid friend. Or a Harvey Weinstein a ladies man. Which isn't really fair, he also likes plants.


WOLF: Trump's also an idea guy. He's got loads of ideas. You got to love him for that.

[22:30:14] WOLF: He wants to give teachers guns and I support that because then they can sell them for things they need like supplies.


WOLF: (inaudible) protractor. A lot of people want Trump to be impeached. I do not. Because just when you think Trump is awful you remember Mike Pence. Mike Pence is what happens when Anderson Cooper isn't gay.


WOLF: Mike Pence is the kind of guy that brushes his teeth and then drinks orange juice and thinks, yum.


WOLF: Mike Pence is also very anti-choice. He thinks abortion is murder. Which first of all, don't knock it until you try it. And when you do try it really knock it. You know, you got to get that baby out of there. And yes, sure you can grown all you want I know a lot of you are very anti-abortion unless it's the one you got for your secret mistress.


WOLF: (inaudible) values can waiver. But good for you. Mike Pence is a weirdo though. He's a weird little guy. He might - - he won't meet with other women without his wife present. When people first heard this they were like, that's crazy. But now in this current climate, they're like that's a good witness. Which of course brings me to the "Me Too" Movement, it's probably the reason I'm here. They were like a woman's probably not going to jerk off in front of anyone right? And to that I say, don't turn your chicken when you go out and party.

Now, I worked in a lot of male dominated fields before comedy. I worked at a tech company and before that I worked on Wall Street. And honestly I've never really been sexually harassed. That being said, I did work at Bear Sterns in 2008. So although I haven't been sexually harassed, I've definitely been fucked. Yes. That whole company went down on me with out my consent.


WOLF: And no men got in trouble for that one either. No, things are changing. Men are being held accountable. You know, Al Franken was ousted. That one really hurt liberals. But I believe it was the great Ted Kennedy who said, wow that's crazy. I murdered a woman.


WOLF: "Chappaquiddick" in theaters now. I did have a lot of jokes - - had a lot of jokes about cabinet members but I had to scrap all of those because everyone has been fired. You guys are going through cabinet members quicker than Starbucks throws out black people. No, don't worry. They're having an afternoon. (inaudible) We just needed an afternoon. Mitch McConnell isn't here tonight. He had a prior engagement. He's finally getting his neck circumcised. (Inaudible)


WOLF: Paul Ryan also couldn't make it. Of course, he's already been circumcised. Unfortunately while they were down there they also took his balls.


WOLF: (Inaudible) Great acting though in that video. Republicans are easy to make fun of, you know, it's like shooting fish in a Chris Christie. But I also want to make fun at Democrats. Democrats are harder to make fun of because you guys don't do anything. People think you might flip the House and Senate this November but you guys always find a way to mess it up. You're somehow going to lose by 12 points to a guy named Jeff Pedophile Nazi Doctor.


WOLF: Oh, he's a doctor? We should definitely talk about the women in the Trump Administration. There's Kellyanne Conway. Man, she has the perfect last name for what she does, Conway. It's like if my name was Michelle Jokes Frizzy Hair Small Tits. You guys got to stop putting Kellyanne on your shows. All she does is lie. If you don't give her, her platform she has no where to lie. It's like that old saying if a tree falls in the woods how do we get Kellyanne under that tree? I'm not suggesting she gets hurt, just stuck. Stuck under a tree.


[22:35: 12] WOLF: Incidentally, a tree falls in the woods is Scott Pruitt's definition of porn. Yes. We all have our kinks. There's also of course Ivanka. She was supposed to be an advocate for women but it turns out she's about as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons. She's done nothing to satisfy women. So I guess like father like daughter. All you don't think he's good in bed, come on. She does clean up nice though. Ivanka cleans up nice. She's the diaper genie of the Administration. On the outside she looks sleek, but the inside it's still full of

shit. And of course we have Sarah Huckabee Sanders. We are graced with Sarah's presence tonight. I have to say I'm a little star struck. I love you as Aunt Lydia in the Hand Maid's Tale. By any chance if you haven't seen it you would love it.


WOLF: Every time Sarah steps up to the podium I get excited because I'm not really sure what we're going to get. You know, a press briefing, a bunch of lies, or a divided into softball teams. It's shirts and skins and this time don't be such a little bitch Jim Acosta.


WOLF: I actually really like Sarah. I think she's very resourceful. Like she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like maybe she's born with it, maybe it's lies. It's probably lies. And I'm never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders, you know. Is it Sarah Sanders? Is it Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Is it Cousin Huckabee? Is it Auntie Huckabee Sanders? But what's Uncle Tom but for women who disappoint other white women. Oh I know, Anne Coulter.

We've got our friends at CNN here. Welcome guys. It's great to have you. You guys love breaking news and you did it. You broke it. The most useful information on CNN is when Anthony Bourdain tells me where to eat noodles.


WOLF: Fox News is here. So you know what that means ladies. Cover your drinks. Seriously. People want me to make fun of Sean Hannity tonight but I cannot do that. This dinner's for journalists. We've got MSNBC here. MSNBC new slogan is this is who we are. Guys, it's not a good slogan. This is who we are is what your mom think's the sad show on NBC is called. Did you watch this is who we are this week? Someone left on a crock pot and everyone died.


WOLF: I watched Morning Joe every morning. We now know that Nika and Joe are engaged. Congratulations you guys. It's like when a "Me Too" works out.


WOLF: We also have Rachel Maddow. We cannot forget about Rachel Maddow. She's the "Peter Pan" of MSNBC. But instead of never growing up, she never gets to the point. Watching Rachel Maddow is like going to Target. You went in for milk but you left with shampoo, candles and the entire history of the Byzantine Empire.

(LAUGHTER) WOLF: (inaudible) And of course, Megan Kelly. What would I do without Megan Kelly? You know, probably be more proud of women. Megan Kelly got paid $23 million by NBC then NBC didn't let Megan go to the Winter Olympics. Why not? She's so white, cold and expensive she might as well be the Winter Olympics. And by the way Megan, Santa's (inaudible). The weird old guy going through your chimney was Bill O'Reilly.


WOLF: You might want to put a flue on it or something. There's a lot of print media here. There's a ton of you guys. But I'm not going to go after print media tonight because it's illegal to attack an endangered species.

[22:40:12] WOLF: (inaudible). There's a ton of news right now. A lot is going on and we have all these 24 hour news networks and we could be covering everything. But instead we're covering like three topics. Every hour it's Trump, Russia, Hillary and a panel of four people that remind you of why you don't go home for Thanksgiving. Milk comes from nuts now all because of the gays. You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you used to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him but I think you love him.


WOLF: I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn't sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric.


WOLF: But he has helped you. He's helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You help create this monster and now you're profiting off of him. And if you're going to profit off of Trump, you should at least give him some money because he doesn't have any.


WOLF: Trump is so broke - -


WOLF: He grabs pussies because he thinks there might be loose change in them. All right like an immigrant who was brought here by his parents and didn't do anything wrong. I've got to get the fuck out of here. Good night. Flint still doesn't have clean water.


MARGARET TALEV: Ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much for supporting the First Amendment and the free press and we wish you a good night. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE) JOHN BERMAN: All right. You've been listening to comedian Michelle Wolf for the White House Correspondents' Dinner. A raucous at time. Raunchy I would say.

POPPY HARLOW: Definitely raunchy.

BERMAN: I was writing down a list. I don't know if you can see all the prints here. It's two columns long here of - - of - - of everyone she mentioned by name.

HARLOW: Hopefully your boys were not awake for that.


HARLOW: It was X-rated.

BERMAN: I'm sorry boys if you were watching tonight. She really did have a lot to say and a lot of people to go after.

HARLOW: A lot of people to go after, let's round robin. Let me begin with you. We have some new panelists with us. Josh Green go.

JOSH GREEN, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT AT BLOOMBERG BUSINESS: I've been to stag parties that were more family friendly than that was. Quite a performance from Michelle Wolf.

HARLOW: Tiffany.

TIFFANY CROSS, CO-FOUNDER AND MANAGING EDITOR OF THE BEAT DC: I thought she was excellent. She was an equal opportunity offender. She made fun of Democrats. She made fun of Republicans and she made fun of Hillary. She made fun of Donald Trump. I laughed out loud several times. I'm not so offended by raunchiness. I thought she was great.

BERMAN: Not at equal doses though.

CROSS: Fair. Fair enough. But I think Donald Trump gives her a little bit more material.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: It seemed to me to be the "Me Too" Movement was what she was kind of all about. There are a lot of jokes for women. It was raunchy. It reminds you of kind of Chris Rock. You usually don't think of Chris Rock hosting this. So I think it was probably our most raw and probably the abortion line that she said is going to catch a lot of attention for being tasteless. But there's some great one liners. She'll probably end up writing a book about why Trump is so broke because that's a good set up line for the new knock, knock jokes of our era.

BERMAN: A couple things I did note. First of all abortion is actually in her every routine. She has jokes there. This - - this was actually further in some ways than the jokes she makes in her routine. And when you suggest equal opportunity, offender I'm not sure she went after Democrats with the same ferocity as she did Republicans. Carrie. CARRIE SHEFFIELD, CONSERVATIVE CORRESPONDENT: That - - that's fair. Although it is a Republican Administration so there's that. But I will say, yes. This was incredibly raunchy and I think it's - - it's really indicative of why a lot of middle Americans, a lot of conservatives, a lot of people of faith feel like Hollywood and the liberal elites have left them behind. I think this is the perfect, perfect summation of the cultural divide that's dividing this country between people who voted for President Trump and people who didn't. So - -

HARLOW: And look where the President was tonight before this it was his 90 minutes on stage at the rally in Washington Township, Michigan. Keith.

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Carrie maybe is taking it a little too seriously. I think, you know, she's there as a comedian. It's - - it's a light hearted event. I didn't think she really touched Trump as hardly as she - - as hard as she could have. But I do think she made a good point about the media is the biggest beneficiary of Donald Trump. That - - that Donald Trump actually helps to sell the media.

And I think yes - - we would - - yes we wouldn't be here if it was any other White House Correspondents' Dinner. But people wouldn't be paying attention as much if it were somebody else. I mean yes they did (inaudible) from Barack Obama but Donald Trump is this unique figure that people are mesmerized by for good or for bad and that is - - that has - - that has effected the media and the coverage of him.

[22:45:13] BERMAN: (inaudible) I did not see who left once. I watched - - I looked at your face every time. I did not see you crack even the slightest smile.

HARLOW: But we know you do laugh and you can't - -


PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have really good teeth and I have a great sense of humor. But she just wasn't funny. I found her to be vulgar. I thought her to be distasteful. You know what, I haven't been so offended since I heard a comedian call the President the "n" word at the - - at the same dinner. And - -


HARLOW: Two years ago.

DENNARD: - - two years ago calling President Barack Obama the first African American President the "n" word. I thought that was offensive. I thought her line talking about Sarah Sanders was - - was just - - was just horrible and I think to Carrie's point this is why look at this in - - in Washington, Michigan and say, that's what I'm talking about. That's DC. That's the liberal media. That's what they do to the President. It's the swamp.

HARLOW: Rick Wilson, he go after - - she did go after those very close and important to the President like his daughter Ivanka Trump for example. And - - and we know how the President reacts when those around him, his family members are attacked. She did. Yes, it was a - - a stand up routine but she went after them pretty hard. I mean, she equated Ivanka Trump to a - - a diaper pail.

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL STRATEGIST: A diaper genie. Yes. No she did. She went hard at them and it was pretty blue as they say. I expected the whole thing to like wrap up with (inaudible). I call it the aristocrats. You know, it - - the - - it was a pretty edgy piece but on the other hand, you know, left and right both get in a moral panic in this country over entertainer very frequently. Whether it's her tonight or Kanye or whomever on what - - on both sides. We - - we lose our minds over - - over entertainers. The truth is not many people in America are sitting up late watching the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

HARLOW: Excuse me that is not helpful to the ratings.


HARLOW: We need to get our panel under control here.

BERMAN: We'll be right back.

[22: 47:06] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:50:46] JOHN BERMAN: All right. Welcome back to our special live coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner. You can see people filing out of the hall. This is actually the most difficult part of the evening. These - -

POPPY HARLOW: He's getting out?

BERMAN: They won't get to a bar or home for several hours right now. It takes forever to get home from this event. We just saw comedian Michelle Wolf deliver, you know, a - - a - - a performance that was up and down in that room. You could see people laughing very hard in the beginning and then in the middle they weren't quite sure what they were getting. She actually made a joke at one point. You didn't research me before you invited me did you?

HARLOW: You don't know what you're getting.

BERMAN: You didn't know what you were getting. Josh Green to you. It was interesting to hear. She seemed to try to hit the President in his weakest of weak spots. She knows that his bank account is what he may be most sensitive about and she literally had a refrain, "Trump is so broke..." What do you think would have happened had he had been in the room?

JOSH GREEN: Hard to imagine although, we know from previous correspondents' dinners when Trump was in the room. I'm thinking of 2011 in particular.

BERMAN: Right. GREEN: And he was mocked to his face. And he tends to kind of sit there red faced, stone faced. Not really kind of laughing along the way the President's ordinarily expected to do. So I don't imagine that he would have enjoyed her performance or found a lot of humor in those jabs.

HARLOW: Sarah Sanders, when she was the butt of the jokes was stone faced too. I mean, you know, she didn't appreciate.

GREEN: Look it's up there. Usually - - usually when you have the President there, you know, there's some exceptions but the comedian will take a little bit off the fastball. There - - there have been exceptions in the past. Stephen Colbert with George W. Bush, but usually it's in a spirit of kind of mocking good humor. That was the - - the spirit of the affair from Michelle Wolf. And you wonder if partly that - - President Trump wasn't sitting there. Sarah Sanders was though. And so that can't feel real good.

BERMAN: She take anything off the fastball when it came to Sarah Sanders.


HARLOW: I - - I - - I would note, it's interesting the New York Times did a profile on her a few days ago and in it she said to them there's limited value in standing in front of a crowd and cracking a bunch of major jokes about Mr. Trump.

BERMAN: She found some value tonight.

HARLOW: She found some value.


HARLOW: To the opposite of what I was expecting given that interview. Tiffany, I mean - -

TIFFANY CROSS: I think that yes, she was the butt of the jokes tonight. But quite honestly when Sarah Sanders comes to that podium every day the American people laugh in horror at some of the things she says. She blatantly states falsehoods from that podium. She has changed the role of the White House Press Secretary. We have seen a transition where it has become OK to say these things that are emphatically not true. That our provably, demonstratively false. And so I think that, you know, if - - if - - if she can come before the American people everyday and lie. That she has to sit there and - - and take a comedian calling her out on that to her face.

HARLOW: Paris?

PARIS DENNARD: Fair enough, you don't have to be mean. I think there's a line that comedians have to draw. You can - -and - - and tonight you saw her go after - - go after the things that President cares about, his finances, his family and his friends like Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the Vice-President. And she took it to a level that was at home (inaudible). It was - - it was offensive and it was mean. You can - - you can critique somebody in jest but there's a level where you take it over the edge and I think she did that.


CARRIE SHEFFIELD: Like - - like Sarah Huckabee Sanders to - - to go after her weight. I think particularly as women. I don't want to see another woman dragging down another woman. I think this is a double standard of conservative women. How we face attacks that are unprecedented from - - from liberal women as well as liberal men. And it's - - it's just - - and - - from the left that says they want to empower women but not just conservative women.

BERMAN: I will say - - I will say there's a bit of a paradox here and we're in the middle of it right now. Which is, you know, we're all the other journalists or political analysts trying - - trying to analyze and pick apart a comedy routine. And - - and sometimes they're two - - they're two different things. They are. I - - I - - where it all comes together tonight is this is an event that happens in Washington that's about journalism with politicians everywhere and it happened to be televised on several different networks. There with a lot of raunchy language Keith. That's, you know, the paradox we're it.

KEITH BOYKIN: Yes. I didn't like everything she said. But I, you know, some of it I thought was funny. Some of it wasn't funny for me. But she is a comedian. That is the core point I keep trying to make here. Yes, we're analyzing it but she did her job. It doesn't always succeed when you do comedy especially in front of a political audience. Where people are trying to pick apart every little thing she said. But I thought honestly, I didn't feel like she was as tough on Donald Trump as she was on the other people around Donald Trump. Yes. I agree she was tough on Sarah Sanders and Kellyanne Conway and others. But talking about Donald Trump's finances is the easiest thing to do.

BERMAN: She - - she also - - she also said he was a racist.

HARLOW: I was just going to say she also called him a racist.


BERMAN: She also talked about his sexual performance.

HARLOW: That's true. Yes.


BOYKIN: - - racist too and a sexist. But I - - I mean - - I don't - - I don't think - - I don't think she said anything that anyone else hasn't already said about Donald Trump in the public - -

[22:55:15] KEITH BOYKIN: - - discourse.

SHEFFIELD: I think that if she'd just say oh he's just an entertainer. Therein lies the point. Therein lies the problem on how Hollywood elites are so out of touch. You can't just laugh someone away and say they're just an entertainer.

BOYKIN: I think you're taking it all way too seriously.

RICK WILSON: - - comedy routine. And if you go to this dinner, you know what the rules are. It's the big boy rules. You know you're going to get - - you know you're going to get some crap from the comedian there. Whether - - and if the President's not there it's going to roll downhill to people who are his representatives.

BERMAN: Let's all figure out. Let's find out how it played in the room. Coming up next we're going to speak to a couple people who were there. Did they laugh? Plus, the President's made a number of headlines tonight from North Korea to the Russia Investigation and he even threatened a Senator. Stay with us.


[22:59:35] JOHN BERMAN: All right. Welcome back to our special live coverage. I'm John Berman.

POPPY HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow. We just watched the headline routine by Michelle Wolf, the comedian at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. This was not a family affair.


HARLOW: I hope no children were up tonight. I think it was pretty X- rated. It was raunchy. It had us all at the edge of our seats.

BERMAN: It's controversial. I mean, it is very controversial. It's controversial at the table. It's controversial on social media and if you watched the faces of the people in the room, it was controversial inside there as well. Let's watch a little bit of it now so you can get some flavor for it.