With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Historian Ron Chernow Cracks Jokes at White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Ron Chernow has won a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. His biography of Alexander Hamilton inspired a musical that revolutionized Broadway.

But comedy? Now that’s a tough gig.

As the featured speaker at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday, Mr. Chernow had the not particularly pleasant task of keynoting an event under siege from a president who relentlessly attacks the press and from critics who question its purpose.

In choosing a scholar over a satirist, the Correspondents’ Association had sought to solemnize a dinner known for its comedic puncturing of the Washington bubble. Michelle Wolf’s routine last year scandalized many of the solons in the room and prompted some journalists to call for a formal apology. At an after-party, reporters expressed sympathy to the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who had declined to be photographed with the comedian after her set.

If losing the punch lines was meant as an enticement to President Trump, the move fell short: He skipped out for the third year running. Ms. Sanders demurred, too, appearing with Mr. Trump at a rally in Wisconsin. “Last year this night I was at a slightly different event,” she told a crowd that shouted anti-media chants. “Not quite the best welcome.”

Read entire article at NY Times