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White House Correspondents’ Association gets serious speaker for annual dinner

November 19, 2018

The White House Correspondents’ Association announced Monday that historian and author Ron Chernow will be the featured speaker at its annual dinner in April, remaking the event with a serious tone after the blowup over comedian Michelle Wolf’s performance at this year’s event.

Mr. Chernow is an eminent biographer of American presidents and statesmen.

“I’m delighted that Ron will share his lively, deeply researched perspectives on American politics and history at the 2019 White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” said Olivier Knox, chief Washington correspondent for SiriusXM and president of the WHCA. “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.”

Earlier this year, Mr. Knox said his inbox was flooded with suggestions to improve the annual dinner after Ms. Wolf’s blistering attacks from the dais targeting White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway.

The most common suggestions were no comic or a serious speaker, Mr. Knox told The New York Times.

Mr. Chernow said the association asked him to make the case for the First Amendment, which has always been the centerpiece of the event.

“I am happy to oblige,” he 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.”

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