Given that the White House Correspondent Association's annual dinner has historically been a symbol of goodwill between press and the White House, wherein a comedian has the opportunity to roast both — it should surprise few that the WHCA has announced that in 2019, for the first time in decades, it will not host a comedian to speak at its annual dinner.
Instead, the evening will feature a more "serious" figure. In the wake of Michelle Wolf's merciless remarks at the last dinner, the WHCA announced today that, in lieu of a comic, presidential biographer Ron Chernow will essentially give a history lesson about the first amendment.
In a statement, President of the WHCA said: "As we celebrate the importance of a free and independent news media to the health of the republic, I look forward to hearing Ron place this unusual moment in the context of American history."
WHCA Announces Acclaimed Author Ron Chernow as Featured Speaker for 2019 Annual Dinner. For more,… https://t.co/0Xqvqx3lkq
Chernow commented in a press release: "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," promising: "While I have never been mistaken for a stand-up comedian, I promise that my history lesson won't be dry,"
Trump, who boycotted the first two WHCA dinners of his presidency, fiercly criticized Wolf's performance:
The White House Correspondents’ Dinner was a failure last year, but this year was an embarrassment to everyone asso… https://t.co/lhm2FrUyS2
In her remarks, Wolf infamously charged the press for "creating" and profiting off the "monster" of Trump, reminded the audience that Flint still doesn't have clean water, and likened Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to an "Uncle Tom" for white women, suggesting she uses a kohl of charred facts to perfect her smoky eye.
The WHCA's decision appears to bow to White House criticism after Wolf scandalized Trump's supporters. However, the Washington Post suggests that member media outlets' anxieties are likely responsible, reporting that several large news organizations' threatened to withdraw funding for the event if it didn't cut the comedy.
After Wolf's routine went viral in April, former WHCA president and Bloomberg reporter Margaret Talev issued a statement claiming: "Unfortunately, the entertainer's monologue was not in the spirit of [the WHCA's] mission."
Wolf promptly and concisely responded the WHCA's decision:
The @whca are cowards. The media is complicit. And I couldn't be prouder. https://t.co/OOIFGuZ731