Today, the WHCA formally announced that author and historian Ron Chernow has been hired to be the new keynote speaker for the upcoming 2019 show, which is going to be happening at some point this April. This is a really dramatic shift from what they’ve done over the past several years, where they featured a comedian turning the occasion into somewhat of a roast. Earlier this year, controversy erupted over Michelle Wolf’s performance, which led to the WHCA distancing themselves somewhat from her remarks. Wolf’s performance was polarizing to the public, but is scrapping a comedian altogether going to fix the problem?
In bringing on board Chernow, what the Correspondents’ Association is doing is shifting the focus of the event to something a little more back to basics. They are putting the emphasis almost entirely on news, the media, the importance of the First Amendment rather than comedy. It’s an interesting move. In some ways, this will allow the Dinner to have more of a somber tone as it puts the focus more on the media. Yet, doing this also strips the event of some of its “nerd prom” atmosphere that it has been famous for, where celebrities often sit with news organizations and things feel a little more like a circus.
This dinner has always been at its core about scholarships and supporting young journalists. Yet, at the same time the comedians helped to bring further attention to the cause. Without that happening this year, it’s going to be a somewhat-strange environment. We wonder where the comedy is going to come from, and also to go along with it what this means for the future of the event in general. (Personally, we do think that the moment the next President is elected, whenever that may be, there’s a chance that the Dinner may revert back to its old ways. We’re just not there at the moment.)
In additional to Wolf, some other notable performers from the White House Correspondents’ Dinner include Seth Meyers, Conan O’Brien, Cecily Strong, and also Jay Leno. Meyers’ performance is one that has received the bulk of the attention over the years, largely due to some of the accusations that his performance and comments about Donald Trump were in some ways the impetus for him deciding to run. We don’t think that you can generalize the entire situation that way … but we certainly do think that Meyers’ comments did not exactly help anything, either. Trump probably viewed them as some sort of a challenge.
What do you think about Ron Chernow being hired as the host of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and how much do you think this changes the landscape of the event? Share below! (We know that for us, we don’t foresee there being anywhere near as much coverage at CarterMatt as there has been in years past.) (Photo: WHCA.)