Last year, comedian and former writer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Michelle Wolf received a wide array of criticism—and a lot of praise, too—for her controversial performance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. In her speech, Wolf made several pointed comments aimed at White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, including comparing her to The Handmaid’s Tale’s terrifying Aunt Lydia. The speech ruffled enough feathers that the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) distanced themselves from the speech, saying it was “not in the spirit” of the group’s mission.
For the 2019 gathering of reporters and White House officials, Variety reports the group is skipping the comedy and any potential controversy by asking author and biographer Ron Chernow to speak. Chernow is a well-respected presidential biographer who has covered the lives of George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, and Alexander Hamilton, a work that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to create his Broadway smash, Hamilton. While Chernow’s speech will most likely not be as controversial as Wolf’s, he may ruffle a few feathers with his chosen topic: a free press.
“Freedom of the press is always a timely subject, and this seems like the perfect moment to go back to basics,” Chernow said in a statement. He also hoped that while he has “never been mistaken for a stand-up comedian,” he hopes that his “history lesson won’t be dry.”
Last year’s host, Michelle Wolf, took to Twitter to respond to the news: