“Saturday Night Live” trouper Cecily Strong had one goal when emceeing the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner Saturday — to avoid being mean.
Her racially charged repertoire failed to do it, but was she at least funny? Not according to anyone with taste.
The annual event is meant to be a time to roast the politicians and media types in attendance, and she did that in spades. But when a joke implied that all police are racists, her performance took on an uglier hue.
After poking fun at the Secret Service’s record, she told the crowd that she was “just kidding” and by illustration called it “the only law enforcement agency in the country that will get in trouble if a black man gets shot.”
Not only was this in bad taste, but it was also a case of bad timing — the violent racially charged Baltimore riots were in full swing just miles away over the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man who died from a spinal injury while in police custody.
“Are you saying ‘boo’ or are you saying ‘true,’” she asked when the crowd reacted unfavorably.
Instead of changing direction, she plowed ahead.
Turning to the president, she remarked, “Your hair is so white now, it can talk back to the police.”
The Twitterverse thought her messaging was ill-planned.
@thehill Not a good choice for a joke..
— daniel davis (@Benito35ddDavis) April 26, 2015
@thehill Not good joke considering Baltimore was in riot mode and people couldn’t get out of ballpark. You can’t even enjoy a night out.
— DT (@don1047) April 26, 2015
In a CNN interview the day before the dinner, Strong remarked that above all else, she didn’t want to come off as mean-spirited.
“I don’t want to be mean,” she said on “The Lead,” according to The Hill. “I just want it to be funny.”
As one Twitter user observed:
@thehill She wanted not to offend anyone. I suppose Law Enforcement Officers don’t count.
— Ernesto Ronin (@Ronin1021) April 26, 2015
Worse yet, unlike the politicians and media figures in attendance, law enforcement wasn’t there to defend itself. It was too busy defending ordinary citizens.
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