The thin-skinned denizens of the Trump administration will have one less thing to be performatively aggrieved over as a historian, rather than a comedian, will be the featured speaker at the 2019 White House Correspondents’ Dinner in April. On Monday morning, the White House Correspondents’ Association announced that historian Ron Chernow will speak at the event. Chernow is probably best known for authoring the 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton upon which Lin-Manuel Miranda based his Broadway show. In case anyone was wondering if Chernow can throw down, he’s also the author of a 1,000-page biography on Ulysses S. Grant that Stephen Spielberg wants to make into a film with Leonardo DiCaprio.
“I’m delighted that Ron will share his lively, deeply researched perspectives on American politics and history at the 2019 White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” Olivier Knox, Chief Washington Correspondent for SiriusXM and president of the WHCA, said in a statement. “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.”
For his part, Chernow obliquely referenced the conspicuous absence of a comic from the evening’s festivities.
“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,” he said in a statement. “While I have never been mistaken for a stand-up comedian, I promise that my history lesson won’t be dry.”
It’s always a good sign when the marquee name on what is billed as an entertaining evening promises his set “won’t be dry.”
The WHCA didn’t explicitly say it billed Chernow to avoid the kind of outcry that arose last year when Sarah Huckabee Sanders made hay out of a bad faith claim that emcee Michelle Wolf attacked her appearance when she joked that the press secretary’s smoky eye shadow was applied with the ashes of torched facts.
“Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies,” Wolf said during her set. “It’s probably lies.”
The evening tends to play out like a roast, with the occupant of the Oval Office serving as the target, though President Trump has declined to attend both years he’s been in office. It’s hard to see booking Chernow as anything other than a move to satisfy the adult babies in Trumpland who feel they should be insulated from any and all criticism.
Still, who doesn’t love to put on an evening gown, get buzzed on champagne, rub shoulders with the cast of Veep, and spend the evening with one of the “chief custodians in preserving that rich storehouse of memory.” Sign me up.
Check out the full statement from Knox and Chernow below:
— WHCA (@whca) November 19, 2018