If you didn’t like it when Michelle Wolf commented on Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ eye-makeup, you’re gonna want to look away.
In a new episode of her Netflix talkshow “The Break with Michelle Wolf,” the comedian skewered what she called the “uptick in insane headlines populating the opinion column,” focusing on the New York Times. Highlighting conservative-leaning (and Jewish) columnists David Brooks and Brett Stephens, Wolf maligned opinion columns which, she laments, “were always very provocative, but now they’re just crazy.” The trenchant comic saved her most brutal assault for Bari Weiss, a staff editor and writer for the opinion page of the New York Times.
Wolf aired a sketch satirizing the opinion page at the New York Times, envisioning a whimsical opinion editor who demands pieces that “normalize sweet Sebastian Gorka!” and deny slavery. The sketch offered a harsh critique of all opinion pages, not just the Times, taking aim at the Washington Post opinion editor who allowed an article about “what it’s like to date a Jew.” But, again, the most severe rebuke is reserved for Weiss, who appears in the clip singing joyfully about Pizzagate (the child-slavery hoax surrounding liberal politicians and a DC pizza shop.)
Wolf’s critique is broad and somewhat extreme — characterizing an op-ed staff as a dandified, singing kook isn’t incisive. It is interesting to see Wolf go after Weiss so soon after fielding global accusations of sexism for her Correspondents’ Dinner comments, and after Samantha Bee’s controversial slur against Ivanka Trump.
Wolf and Weiss have quite a bit in common. They are white women born two years apart in cities in Pennsylvania. Wolf and Weiss both moved to New York and excelled professionally immediately following college, Wolf in banking at Bear Stearns and JP Morgan, Weiss writing for the Wall Street Journal. My sense is that Wolf sees herself in Weiss, just as the blonde, hyper-successful mother-of-three Samantha Bee must see herself in Ivanka Trump. When the person you want to criticize comes from a similar background, perhaps the compulsion to rhetorically curb-stomp them is intense.
Ultimately, Wolf turns her criticism on the viewer. She accuses us of complicity in media support for “bad opinions,” for reading bad op-eds because they anger us and then sharing them to show off how angry we are.
Media, says Wolf, take advantage of both support for “insane opinions” and faux-outrage. At the end of the sketch, the Times staff sings:
“As long as you share it we don’t even care! We’ll legitimize all takes in the name of being fair just as long as you share.”
Watch the full clip here:
Finally discovered why @nytopinion has so many bad takes. pic.twitter.com/IFIW8M1pkY— The Break with Michelle Wolf (@thebreaknetflix) June 11, 2018
Jenny Singer is the deputy Lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny