Anti-Trump comedian Michelle Wolf called the White House Correspondents' Association “cowards” for ditching comedy for its annual dinner in 2019 after she made headlines with a crude performance last April.
“The @whca are cowards. The media is complicit. And I couldn't be prouder,” Wolf tweeted after the WHCA announced that Alexander Hamilton biographer Ron Chernow would be the featured speaker at the annual dinner, which is scheduled for April 27.
“I’m delighted that Ron will share his lively, deeply researched perspectives on American politics and history at the 2019 White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” WHCA President Olivier Knox said. “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.”
'Way to ruin it for everyone Michelle Wolf'
The role of the host is typically to roast the president and members of the media, with the jokes sometimes taking shots at the most powerful person in the world. But many critics felt Wolf took it too far last year when she launched attacks on President Trump and members of his administration.
Chernow is far from a comedian, but has written acclaimed biographies of prominent figures such as Alexander Hamilton, George Washington and John D. Rockefeller.
“The White House Correspondents’ Association has asked me to make the case for the First Amendment and I am happy to oblige,” Chernow 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.”
It didn’t take long for watchdogs to blame Wolf’s performance for the change in format.
“Way to ruin it for everyone Michelle Wolf,” Mediaite editor Colby Hall wrote.
“Michelle Wolf didn't just kill her career, she killed the WHCA dinner entertainment too,” Erick Erickson tweeted.
The WHCA includes a large roster of news organizations such as Fox News, the Associated Press, NBC, CBS, ABC, Reuters, CNN, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, NPR, Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today and Politico.
'The @whca are cowards. The media is complicit. And I couldn't be prouder'
Several attendees of the 2018 event sat in stunned silence as Wolf took personal jabs at Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, who was at the dinner as a representative of the Trump administration and sat just feet away as Wolf commented on her appearance, criticized her job performance and even her Southern roots.
Several journalists came to Sanders’ defense after Wolf attacked Sanders’ looks. The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman even commended Sanders for absorbing “intense criticism” brought on by Wolf. Anti-Trump “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski called Wolf’s jokes on Sanders “deplorable” and said the WHCA owed Sanders an apology, while NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell said Wolf’s routine was the “worst since [Don] Imus insulted [the] Clintons” during the 1996 Radio-Television Correspondents Dinner.
President Trump – who was not in attendance -- called the event a “big, boring bust” and declared the "so-called comedian really bombed.” The annual dinner is traditionally attended by the president and first lady, but the Trumps have skipped the event.
“The Break with Michelle Wolf” debuted on Netflix shortly after the dinner but was canceled months later. During the run of her now-canceled show, Wolf took aim at first daughter Ivanka in another series of crude jokes. She has also referred to Eric Trump as “an abortion,” compared ICE to ISIS and even joked that the president abused Melania Trump.
Fox News’ Katherine Lam contributed to this report.