There was a time when the White House Correspondents’ Dinner—an annual gathering of the press and the politicians they cover—could be a real star-maker for its host. Beginning around the time Stephen Colbert made “jokes” to George W. Bush’s face about how much of a disaster his presidency had been, the WHCD became a nice gig where comedians with some political point of view could actually speak truth to power. Of course, depending on who you believe, it’s also a gig where comedians with a political point of view could hurt their targets’ feelings so bad that they decide to seriously pursue a career as a fascist tyrant, but that’s only really happened the one time so far. Either way, comedian Michelle Wolf’s WHCD set last year was so stupidly controversial that the association of White House correspondents was too scared to bring in any actual funny people this year, leaving historian Ron Chernow (of all people) to answer the call.
Chernow is probably best known to the average person for writing a book about Alexander Hamilton that inspired a popular hip-hop musical, but based on his hosting job here, Chernow doesn’t seem to be quite as entertaining as those cabinet rap battles. Vulture grabbed a couple highlights from Chernow’s set, and one thing is a clear: He is definitely not a comedian.
On Tuesday, the president let it be known he wanted members of his administration to stay away from this dinner. At first, I was puzzled by this news. But then I learned a rumor was circulating in Washington that I was going to be reading aloud from the redacted portions of the Mueller report and everything was explained.
He also mentioned that Trump (in his infinite jealousy of Barack Obama) wants to win a Nobel Peace Prize, but Chernow thinks he has a better chance at winning “the Nobel Prize for fiction.” Zing! Recognizing the situation, though, Chernow talked about how much he wishes there were still comedians hosting the WHCD, since—quoting Will Rogers—”people are taking their comedians seriously and their politicians as a joke.”
A video of Chernow’s full remarks is below.