Following a controversial performance from Michelle Wolf in April, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is course-correcting: Historian and author Ron Chernow will headline the 2019 event, disrupting a long tradition of comedian keynote speakers.
“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. While I have never been mistaken for a stand-up comedian, I promise that my history lesson won’t be dry.”
Chernow is best known for his biographies of political figures, particularly his Alexander Hamilton tome that served as the inspiration for Hamilton: An American Musical.
This will mark only the second time in the past 35 years that a non-comedian has headlined the dinner: Musician Ray Charles was the featured speaker in 2003, a decision made by President George W. Bush given the recent invasion of Iraq at the time.
More recent hosts have included Hasan Minhaj, Larry Wilmore, Cecily Strong, Seth Meyers and, of course, Wolf, who was criticized earlier this year for her jokes about members of the Trump administration. After her performance, 43 percent of TVLine readers gave her hosting a grade of “A,” while 36 percent handed her an “F.”
The White House Correspondents’ Dinner will take place on Saturday, April 27, 2019. How do you feel about this break from tradition?