There will officially be no comedian at the White House Correspondents Dinner next year. In a statement released today, the WHCA announced that the host for the dinner on Saturday, April 27, 2019, will be historian (and Trump-biographer), Ron Chernow.
Last year the dinner was hosted by comedian Michelle Wolf, who delivered such a scathing roast of both the administration and the journalists, she essentially broke the dinner. The WHCA is taking zero risks this year because clearly, no one can take a joke (or a good one, at least).
President Donald Trump, if you’ll remember, didn’t even bother attending. He didn’t attend in 2017, either, when Larry Wilmore hosted.
In April of last year, Olivier Knox, the WHCA president, said during an interview, “It will not surprise you to hear that my email inbox is overflowing with advice on how to improve the dinner.” The suggestions apparently included things like, “No entertainer. No comic. A serious speaker. Maybe a musician. Maybe don’t televise it.”
— WHCA (@whca) November 19, 2018
Chernow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, didn’t just write a biography of Trump. He’s also written about J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Ulysses S. Grant. It was his 2004 biography of Hamilton that became the basis for Lin Manuel’s hit Broadway musical, Hamilton.
About hosting, Chernow said,
“The White House Correspondents’ Association has asked me to make the case for the First Amendment, and I am happy to oblige. Freedom of the press is always a timely subject and this seems like the perfect moment to go back to basics. My major worry these days is that we Americans will forget who we are as a people and historians should serve as our chief custodians in preserving that rich storehouse of memory. While I have never been mistaken for a stand-up comedian, I promise that my history lesson won’t be dry.”
Wolf’s performance last year was highly controversial, with a lot of confusion over a joke Wolf made about White House press secretary Sarah Sanders’ “smoky eyes.” Afterward, Trump tweeted, “The White House Correspondents Dinner is DEAD as we know it. This was a total disaster and an embarrassment to our great Country and all that is stands for. FAKE NEWS is alive and well and beautifully represented on Saturday night!”
The White House Correspondents’ Dinner is DEAD as we know it. This was a total disaster and an embarrassment to our great Country and all that it stands for. FAKE NEWS is alive and well and beautifully represented on Saturday night!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2018
So how does Wolf feel about being the one who was responsible (I guess?) for there being no comedian invited for 2019, and probably not for the rest of Trump’s presidency?
— Michelle Wolf (@michelleisawolf) November 19, 2018
She tweeted, “The @whca are cowards. The media is complicit. And I couldn’t be prouder.”
Good for her!