Strong reactions after comedian delivers scathing 'roast' of White House press secretary

Michelle Wolf took aim at Sarah Huckabee Sanders during her act - with Sanders sitting only a few seats away

Strong reactions after comedian delivers scathing 'roast' of White House press secretary

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at White House Correspondents' Dinner. Picture by: Cheriss May/SIPA USA/PA Images

There has been a mixed reaction to a comedian's 'roast' of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at an event in Washington DC.

Sanders was among the guests at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, an annual event for the White House press corps.

Despite presidents having traditionally attended the event in the past, President Trump opted to skip the dinner for the second year in a row - instead attending a campaign rally in Michigan.

The dinner typically features a comedy act with jokes focusing on the current administration, and this year comedian Michelle Wolf was on 'roast' duties.

While her jokes took aim at various members of the Trump administration and the US president himself, the jokes concerning Sanders gained particular attention.

Wolf joked: "I actually really like Sarah. I think she's very resourceful. But she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smokey eye.

"Maybe she's born with it... maybe it's lies. It's probably lies."

At one point, the comedian told Sanders "I love you as Aunt Lydia" - referring to the cruel disciplinarian from The Handmaid's Tale TV show.

Footage showed the press secretary - who was sitting only a few seats away - looking visibly uncomfortable and unhappy during the speech.

Reactions

Conservative commentators and Trump supporters were among those most critical of the act.

The US president himself claimed Wolf 'bombed' during the event: 

Sanders' predecessor Sean Spicer described the event as a 'disgrace' - a reaction Wolf herself welcomed.

Others declared the Trump administration as 'fair game' for such humour.

There was a mixed reaction from the press corps itself - with some describing the jokes about Sanders as 'cruel' and 'mean'.

The New York Times' Maggie Haberman - who has recently been the focus of some of President Trump's personal attacks - described Sanders' reaction as 'impressive':

That response was criticised by comedian and The Big Sick writer Kumail Nanjiani, and Wolf herself:

The annual dinner has often attracted criticism, with some arguing it symbolises an 'access journalism' culture in which journalists are too reliant on the White House and official channels for information and stories.

CNN's Jim Acosta - well known for his frequent clashes with the administration - said his problem with the dinner was not the jokes: