This year, for the first time in its modern history, the dinner will not feature a professional entertainer. The White House Correspondents’ Association was besieged with criticism, including from some of its own members, after comedian Michelle Wolf’s sulphurous performance at the dinner last year. Her number included several raunchy bits and personal insults of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, seated at the head table just a few feet away. This year, instead, the dinner will feature comments from historian Ron Chernow, whose biography of Alexander Hamilton was the basis for the hit musical.
Surely Chernow’s commentary will be intelligent and illuminating. But glitzy seems like a stretch. It’s possible the White House Correspondents’ Dinner won’t even be the most glamorous thing on C-SPAN this weekend.
This week, as reporters and producers drag out their once-a-year tuxedos and gowns, journalists in the capital are facing a paradox, painful or amusing depending on one’s point of view: The dinner actually is transforming into the more subdued and earnest event that journalists have long claimed to desire. And as the evening becomes a dry professional awards ceremony, it’s Donald Trump, the most celebrity-oriented and raucously irreverent president in history, who can take much of the credit.