Historian Ron Chernow Will Hold Dais At The White House Correspondents’ Dinner by the Forward

Historian Ron Chernow Will Hold Dais At The White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Next year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner may not be as controversial — or funny — as this year’s.

The WHCA announced on November that Ron Chernow, the Pulitzer-winning biographer of Alexander Hamilton, George Washington and John D. Rockefeller, will be the featured speaker of the festivities on April 27, 2019.

The selection of Chernow is a major departure for the annual event, which gathers White House officials and the press. In the past comedians have held the dais for a night of levity and comity between groups that sometimes have a contentious relationship.

In 2018 comedian Michelle Wolf hosted the evening; she drew criticism from the White House and the WHCA for jokes that some believed targeted Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ looks. Wolf’s performance led to a larger debate about the nature and mission of the dinner and its focus on the First Amendment, a matter Chernow was invited to address in his speech.

“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.”

Chernow’s books have been bestsellers and one has even made him something of a pop sensation, with his biography of Hamilton serving as the basis for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical “Hamilton.” But not all are pleased with a historian taking the place of a comedian.

Wolf attacked the WHCA announcement on Twitter, writing “the [WHCA] are cowards. The media is complicit. And I couldn’t be prouder.”

Historian Ron Chernow To Host White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Historian Ron Chernow To Host White House Correspondents’ Dinner

PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture intern. He can be reached at grisar@forward.com

Ron Chernow To Host White House Correspondents’ Dinner

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Historian Ron Chernow Will Hold Dais At The White House Correspondents’ Dinner

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