Like a tonic, Samantha Bee commended the press tonight for continuing to check the president “as if he some day may get embarrassed” – and that was hours before Donald Trump recited the lyrics to an old one-hit wonder and called it a poem. Embarrassment isn’t in the cards.
Bee’s Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, taped earlier today in Washington D.C. and aired tonight as an special episode of TBS’s Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, was well-timed, like champagne chilled but corked until needed most.“For the longest time, I was considered the worst president of all time,” said surprise guest Will Ferrell in his George W. Bush guise. “That has changed. And it only took 100 days.”
The special kicked off with a pre-taped bit featuring Allison Janney as her West Wing press secretary C.J. Cregg, reminding everyone of that fast-talking series (and a more liberal cultural moment). Taking the podium at a faux-press conference, Janney/Cregg addressed a room of Spicer-era press corp that included a Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band leader and a black-robed Opus Dei blogger.
“You know what, you people are monsters,” she said to the “racist bloggers,” “anarchists” and “rancid women haters” who “call themselves journalists.”
“You pretend to be them, ruining their reputations,” Janney said, “at least among people too stupid to tell the difference.” She ended the bit by confirming that, yes, Bee is a witch and so is she, then blasted the Opus Dei guy with her eye-lasers.
Bee’s stand-up routine covered lots of recent media dust-ups, from Buzzfeed’s golden showers expose, CNN’s resident Republican nitwit Jeffrey Lord and his boss Jeff Zucker (“the guy who put Joey on the air”), to Rachel Maddow’s not-so-expose tax story and the rise of Bannon-age alternative facts. With an “in memoriam” photo showing Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, she mourned “two media titans who were snatched – sorry, taken from us – far too late.”
Interspersed were some wickedly funny pre-taped bits with Bee appearing at WHCDs through the decades, including a silent film newsreel of her snarking about Woodrow Wilson’s racism and, in Material Girl-era Madonna drag, roasting Ronald Reagan with AIDS jokes that leave Ron, Nancy and Frank Sinatra gobsmacked. In a clip from a Handmaid’s Tale future, “Mrs. Jason Jones” meekly praises President Pence. (See the video above).
Of course, Bee zeroed in on Trump. “He ran away from the Vietnam War, two Republican debates and now the Correspondents’ Dinner,” she said. “Just goes to show you a giant pussy can get elected president as long as he doesn’t have one.”
Towards the end, Ferrell took the stage – a surprise that couldn’t be contained before the show – with “How do you like me now?” Best joke: “You guys remember Helen Thomas? Helen Thomas scared the sh*t out of me until someone pointed out that she had been dead since 1954.” And, Ferrell’s Bush said, she still asked tougher questions than any man at Fox News today.
Bee brought the evening to a close with a pre-taped bit in which she tearfully imagines a Hillary presidency and the resultant Men’s March that could be seen from space.
Ticket sales from tonight’s event raised nearly $200,000 for the Committee to Protect Journalists.