It’s official: Next year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner will not feature a good old-fashioned roasting by a comedian. In a statement, the White House Correspondents’ Association announced today that it has selected author and presidential biographer Ron Chernow as the speaker of 2019’s ceremony, confirming earlier speculation that both the White House and journalists can’t take a joke in today’s political climate — especially not a joke about smoky eyes by Michelle Wolf.
“It will not surprise you to hear that my email inbox is overflowing with advice on how to improve the dinner,” WHCA president Olivier Knox said in an interview back in April following Michelle Wolf’s WHCD performance, which drew criticism from Donald Trump and others. Knox followed it up with a list of changes the ceremony might include: “No entertainer. No comic. A serious speaker. Maybe a musician. Maybe don’t televise it.”
“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,” Chernow said on the news. “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.”
Michelle Wolf responded to the news on Twitter, saying, “The @whca are cowards. The media is complicit. And I couldn’t be prouder.”
Update, November 21: Donald Trump decided to weigh in on this new WHCD tradition on — where else? — Twitter. He said the switch was because Michelle Wolf “bombed so badly” at this year’s event. “Good first step in comeback of a dying evening and tradition! Maybe I will go?” he added.
Wolf directly responded to Trump a few hours later: “I bet you’d be on my side if I had killed a journalist.