×

Author Ron Chernow Will Speak at White House Correspondents’ Dinner

WASHINGTON — After fallout from the biting performance of comedian Michelle Wolf at the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, the organization is going in a different direction: Author and biographer Ron Chernow will be the featured speaker at the annual gathering of reporters and White House officials.

Olivier Knox, the chief Washington correspondent for SiriusXM and president of the WHCA, said that “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 had told the board during the summer that he was leaning against scheduling a comedian for the upcoming event, which will be held on April 27, 2019. Instead, with Chernow, the focus will be on history and the First Amendment.

Chernow, whose biography of Alexander Hamilton inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway sensation “Hamilton,”  has also penned biographies of John D. Rockefeller, George Washington and J.P. Morgan, and most recently, Ulysses S. Grant.

“Freedom of the press is always a timely subject, and this seems like the perfect moment to go back to basics,” Chernow said in a statement. “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.”

The organization has grappled with whether to schedule a comedian at the upcoming event, as has been tradition. Last year, Wolf drew criticism for comments she made about Sarah Huckabee Sanders as the White House press secretary sat nearby on stage. That set in motion discussion on whether there should be major changes to the event, which usually sells out, by giving the evening a more serious focus.

The WHCA already had been giving more attention to the issue of press freedom at the event. President Donald Trump has not attended the dinner since he has been in office. In his place, the WHCA in 2017 invited Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to speak, and a year later Egyptian-American social activist Aya Hijazi shared her story.

Wolf tweeted a response to the news of Chernow’s selection instead of some kind of comic.

“The @whca are cowards. The media is complicit. And I couldn’t be prouder,” she wrote.

Popular on Variety

More Politics

  • Cardi BSwisher Sweets Spark Award, Arrivals,

    Cardi B Talks Police Brutality, Student Debt With Bernie Sanders in Nail Salon

    Rapper Cardi B hosted Senator Bernie Sanders for a video interview at The TEN nail bar in Detroit, an appropriate venue for a musician known to sport some serious claws. Cardi and the 2020 presidential candidate discussed everything from reinstating and expanding the DACA program to fixing student debt by placing a “modest” speculation tax [...]

  • Jeffrey Epstein

    Jeffrey Epstein Autopsy Reportedly Finds Broken Bones in Neck

    Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy results suggest that the the disgraced multimillionaire sustained multiple breaks in his neck bones, according to The Washington Post. The report says one of the bones broken was the hyoid bone, which is near the Adam’s apple in men. Although hyoid breaks have been known to occur during a hanging, experts told [...]

  • Asap Rocky1 Oak : Gotha Takeover

    A$AP Rocky: A Swedish Take on the Case That Riveted the Country

    With everyone from President Donald Trump to the Rev. Al Sharpton weighing in on rapper A$AP Rocky’s detention in Stockholm after his involvement in a street brawl there, this peculiar saga seemed tailor-made for summer’s silly season. But in Sweden it has also sparked debate about some serious issues – such as the nature of [...]

  • United States Attorney for the Southern

    Jeffrey Epstein Autopsy Results 'Pending Further Information' Following Examination

    Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy results are “pending further information,” according to a statement from the New York City Medical Examiner’s office. “Today, a medical examiner performed the autopsy of Jeffrey Epstein. The ME’s determination is pending further information at this time,” chief medical examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said in the statement. Sampson also confirmed the presence [...]

  • Equinox fitness protest

    Protesters Chant 'Trump Has No Soul' at West Hollywood Equinox

    A small protest erupted outside of Equinox Fitness in West Hollywood Friday afternoon following the outcry over a big-dollar fundraising event for President Trump organized by billionaire Stephen Ross, chairman of Equinox owner Related Companies. Approximately 20 people gathered at the Sunset Boulevard protest coordinated by Gonzalez Garcia and his friend Adam Bass. Garcia and [...]

  • Donald Trump Hollywood Racism

    Donald Trump Blasts Hollywood for 'Racist' Films

    UPDATED: Donald Trump blasted Hollywood as “racist” outside the White House on Friday morning, adding that the industry is doing a “disservice” to the country. His remarks come amid controversy over “The Hunt,” the Blumhouse film about elite vacationers hunting down blue-collar whites for sport. The film has generated backlash on Fox News and other [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content