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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Michelle Wolf scared the White House Correspondents' Dinner away from comedy

Illustration for article titled Michelle Wolf scared the White House Correspondents' Dinner away from comedy
Photo: Tasos Katopodis (Getty Images)

Because the goblins of our current administration have skin thinner than a piece of wet tissue, The White House Correspondents’ Association has announced that, for the first time in more than three decades, they will not feature a comedian at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Instead, they’ve invited Ron Chernow, a prolific, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, among others. He will, according to the WHCA, speak on the first amendment and the freedom of the press, which should be rich considering the year we’ve had.


The shift comes after comedian Michelle Wolf drew criticism for her (hilarious) jokes about Vice President Mike Pence (“what happens when Anderson Cooper isn’t gay”), the GOP’s penchant for candidates with names like “Jeffpedophilenazidoctor, and the media’s complicity in the administration’s rise. She drew particular heat from her (hilarious) cracks on Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who she described as “Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women.” President Trump, who didn’t attend the ceremony, said she bombed and that the dinner is “DEAD” while influential journalists like the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman falsely interpreted Wolf’s jokes to make them sound more mean-spirited than satirical. In the aftermath of the event, the WHCA said the entertainer’s monologue was not in the spirit of the mission, causing anybody who wasn’t a humorless Republican or an elite member of the media to roll their eyes into the backs of their skulls.

The 2019 dinner is scheduled for Saturday, April 27, and WHCA president Olivier Knox promises that Chernow will just as entertaining. “I’m delighted that Ron will share his lively, deeply researched perspectives on American politics and history at the 2019 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. 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.”

Chernow, meanwhile, said this: “The White House Correspondents’ Association has asked me to make the case for the First Amendment and I am happy to oblige,” Chernow said. “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.”

One can assume that, by focusing about the past, the evening will allow everyone in the room to ignore all the new and profound ways in which both the media and our country is being dismantled.

Wolf was quick to respond, taking to Twitter this morning to offer a terse statement of her own. “The @whca are cowards,” she wrote. “The media is complicit. And I couldn’t be prouder.”


Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.