Media Figures, Activists Defend ‘Edgy’ Michelle Wolf’s Abortion Joke


Not everyone is unhappy with Michelle Wolf. As the comedienne toyed with the value of unborn human life, she was recognized as a “hero” by certain figures in the media.

On Saturday, April 28, Wolf hosted the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) dinner. In the middle of her remarks, Wolf made an abortion “joke” about “anti-choice” Vice President Mike Pence. She said:

“He thinks abortion is murder. Which, first of all, don’t knock it ‘til you try it. And when you do try it, really knock it. You know, you gotta get that baby out of there. And yeah sure, you can groan all you want, I know a lot of you are very anti-abortion, you know, unless it’s the one you got for your secret mistress. It’s fun how values can waver.”

Conservatives and liberals alike condemned her words, but some media figures and abortion supporters still raced to her defense – including for her abortion “humor.”

Al Jazeera’s AJ+ host Francesca Fiorentini bashed media figures who criticized the “edgy” Wolf. Fiorentini blamed the attacks on what she saw as sexist media outlets, rather than for the content of Wolf’s “joke.”

“I think another reason they are ripping Wolf apart is that she’s a female comic who made abortion, vagina and sex jokes,” she insisted on Twitter. “She is an edgy feminist comic who kills all over the country. And mainstream outlets couldn’t take it.”

According to The Nation correspondent and CNN contributor Joan Walsh, they shouldn’t have been surprised. She, too, used the word “edgy” to describe Wolf.

“The ‘edginess’ of her routine was well-known, including the abortion joke, was widely known — so anyone pretending to be surprised is either stupid or lying,” Walsh tweeted.

Amelia Bonow, co-founder of the #ShoutYourAbortion campaign that encourages women to share their (positive) abortion stories, went so far as to hope that Wolf’s comments meant she had an abortion herself.

In other words, Wolf’s “don’t knock it ‘til you try it” point “could reasonably be interpreted as her saying she’s had one,” she tweeted. “That’s f***ing amazing! It wasn’t necessarily a shout but it felt like a really brave wink.”

Likewise, New York Times best-selling author and singer Amanda Palmer congratulated Wolf for “being a beautiful combo of truthful & hilarious.”

“[M]ay all women draw strength from your awesomeness!” she tweeted, “also thank you for helping to normalize abortion talk.”

Even former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards chimed in to say that Wolf is “a comedian, that was her job,” during CNN’s New Day on May 1. Although, she admitted, abortion “isn’t a topic that I make jokes about.”

Although few and far between, some media outlets praised Wolf in their headlines.

Harper’s Bazaar heralded Wolf as a “hero,” while editor Jennifer Wright commended Wolf for “doing her job correctly.”

“It is surreal to see a joke about abortion met with more condemnation than the fact that senators are suggesting the death penalty for women who have abortions,” Wright deflected, rather than actually addressing Wolf’s words.

According to The Daily Beast, Wolf’s “honesty” was “what America needs right now.”

In her piece, editor Erin Gloria Ryan responded to CNN editor Chris Cillizza who asked, “Does anyone celebrate abortion—even jokingly?” Gloria Ryan argued that “every female comic working in New York and L.A. right now has at least a tight five on abortion. Watch some comedy. Any comedy. Actually, better yet, stay the hell away from comedy.”

If that’s what comedy is – the casual dehumanization of the unborn human person – then yes, please. That’s nothing to laugh about, because, unlike what Wolf says, some values don’t waver.

While WHCA President Margaret Talev admitted Wolf’s comments were “not in the spirit” of the association’s dinner, Wolf isn’t backing down. “I wouldn’t change a single word that I said,” she told NPR. “I’m very happy with what I said, and I’m glad I stuck to my guns.”

And so, perhaps, she and her media supporters will also understand if those who disagree don’t budge either.

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Katie Yoder serves as the associate culture editor at NewsBusters and is a columnist for She is also the Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow for the Media Research Center’s culture division. Follow her on Twitter @k_yoder.

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