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The next White House Correspondents’ Dinner may look like a lecture

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Michelle Wolf White House Correspondents' Association dinner
Comedian
Michelle Wolf performs at the White House Correspondents’
Association dinner in Washington on April 28,
2018.


REUTERS/Aaron
P. Bernstein



  • For the first time in over three decades, a stand-up comedian
    will not headline the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
    Biographer Ron Chernow, who wrote the book on Alexander Hamilton
    that was turned into the musical “Hamilton,” will be headlining.
  • “The WHCA are cowards,” last year’s comedian headliner
    Michelle Wolf tweeted, on Monday. “The media is complicit. And I
    couldn’t be prouder.”
  • “While I have never been mistaken for a stand-up comedian, I
    promise that my history lesson won’t be dry,” Chernow said in a
    statement.

For the first time in over three decades, a stand-up comedian
will not headline the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Instead
the event, which will take place on April 27, 2019, will feature
Ron Chernow, the noted biographer whose books include those about

Alexander Hamilton
, President George Washington, and
President Ulysses S. Grant.

However, comedian Michelle Wolf, who headlined last year’s
dinner, is not pleased. “The WHCA are cowards. The media is
complicit. And I couldn’t be prouder,” she tweeted on Monday.

The White House, members of the news media,
and the correspondents’ association
criticized Wolf’s edgy

performance
— and her roast of White House Press Secretary
Sarah Huckabee Sanders this spring.

While some said she had gone too far, others defended her, saying
that the biting truth in her jokes were supposed to make people
feel uncomfortable.

Other comedians have pushed boundaries during the White House
Correspondents’ Dinner: Stephen Colbert
lampooned President George Bush
, and
Larry Wilmore dropped the N-word in 2016
.

However in 2019, the WHCA is eschewing comedy as a means to speak
truth to power in favor of a historical perspective — and a
lesson on the First Amendment.

“The White House Correspondents’ Association has asked me to make
the case for the First Amendment and I am happy to oblige,”
Chernow said in a statement. “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,” Chernow
continued. “While I have never been mistaken for a stand-up
comedian, I promise that my history lesson won’t be dry.”

The announcement of Chernow as keynote speaker is happening as
the Trump administration’s relationship with the press continues
to suffer. The White House this week
reinstated CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s press credential

after a heated exchange between Acosta and President Donald Trump
earlier this month landed in court.

The White House reacted to a judge’s order to give Acosta his
press credential back
by announcing a set of “rules”
meant to govern reporters’
interactions with Trump.

Of course this is hardly the first White House Correspondents’
Dinner to break with tradition in recent years. Trump became the

first president in 36 years to not attend
. He skipped the
dinner in both 2017 and 2018.

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