Mine was one of the millions of mouths that dropped to the floor Saturday night when comedian Larry Wilmore dropped the “N” word when referring to President Obama. “My n*gga,” as he ended his White House Correspondents Dinner comedic monologue.
The shock of hearing someone used that word while talking about the president was just momentary though, as the president seemed to go along with Wilmore’s characterization of him. Mr. Obama smiled, tapped his chest with a closed fist then made the peace sign, as if to say, it’s all good!
“I’m confident that Mr. Wilmore used the word by design. He was seeking to be provocative,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said during a press briefing. “But I think any reading of his comments makes clear he was not using the president as the butt of a joke.”
Earnest compared Wilmore’s performance to Stephen Colbert, who faced criticism for his White House Correspondents Dinner speech during the Bush administration. Wanda Sykes also ignited controversy in 2009, Earnest noted, after she made fun of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.
“It’s not the first time we’ve had a conversation about this,” he remarked.
Earnest said the president “appreciated the spirit of the sentiments that Mr. Wilmore expressed.”