White House Correspondents' Dinner canceled over coronavirus concerns

The White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) announced Tuesday that its annual dinner has been canceled due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

"With great regret, we will have to cancel our planned dinner on Aug. 29," WHCA President Jonathan Karl said in a statement. "We’ve been working hard to reconfigure the dinner in ways to make it safe for guests and staff. But after consultation with medical experts, government authorities and our own members, we’ve concluded that it is just not possible to put on the kind of dinner that promotes the best in journalism and allows our guests to comfortably and safely enjoy themselves."

The yearly White House Correspondents' Dinner (WHCD) that celebrates journalism was initially scheduled for April 25 but was postponed in March as the pandemic stunted the nation. Saturday Night Live cast member Kenan Thompson was set to host the event, and comedian Hasan Minhaj was also set to return as a featured entertainer.

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"We do not want to let this moment pass, however, without telling the truly inspiring story of journalism in 2020, particularly White House journalism," Karl continued. "So, we are working at this moment on a virtual presentation that would allow us to salute award-winning journalism, toast an impressive group of scholarship winners, and still enjoy a few laughs."

President Trump has notably skipped the WHCD ever since he took office. The dinners have drawn criticism in recent years for the partisan, hostile nature of the jokes made by the invited comedians.

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The WHCA faced backlash in 2018 for having Michelle Wolf emcee the event. Wolf viciously went after then-White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who had attended that year's dinner. The backlash prompted the association to skip the comedy presentation altogether at the 2019 dinner, inviting historian Ron Chernow to speak instead.