There Will Be No Comedian at Next Year's Correspondents' Dinner

Author Ron Chernow speaking instead
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2018 12:48 PM CST
This April 18, 2011, file photo shows author Ron Chernow at his home in the Brooklyn borough of New York.   (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano, File)

(Newser) – Looks like President Trump won't have to deal with jokes made at his expense at this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner, because the White House Correspondents' Association didn't invite a comedian. Instead, author Ron Chernow will speak at the annual event, to be held April 27, CNN reports. The historian has written popular biographies of George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, and others; his book about Alexander Hamilton inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the Broadway musical Hamilton. Traditionally, the POTUS attends the WHCA dinner; he ribs the press and then the comedian ribs him. But Trump has not attended either of the two dinners that have taken place so far since he took office, giving the dinner a more combative feel, association president Olivier Knox explained to CNN.

After last year's controversial monologue by comedian Michelle Wolf, the association's then-president said Wolf's remarks took the focus away from the First Amendment freedoms the night is supposed to be celebrating. (Indeed, some commentators were quick to blame Wolf for causing the change, Fox News reports.) This year, "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," Knox says in a statement. Adds Chernow, "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." He says that though he's no comedian, he promises not to be "dry." (Meanwhile, in the Trump vs. CNN battle...)

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