November 19, 2018

"The White House Correspondents’ Association announced on Monday that for the first time in 15 years, no comedian would crack jokes at its annual black-tie dinner in April."

"Instead, Ron Chernow, the historian and biographer of Alexander Hamilton and John Rockefeller, will speak on the First Amendment. The dinner, intended to commemorate comity between the president and his press corps, has come under immense pressure in the age of 'fake news,' and President Trump has declined to attend two years running. This year’s performer, the comedian Michelle Wolf, outraged the Washington crowd with her off-color jokes about members of the administration. Mr. Trump, for his part, declared the dinner 'DEAD as we know it.'"

The NYT reports.

This one certainly gets my Era of That's Not Funny tag.


David Begley said...

Maybe Chernow could sing some tunes from Hamilton.

alanc709 said...

Hard to believe, someone may have actually learned how large a fail last year was, and actually responded. Of course, it will be interesting to see what direction the First Amendment talk will take, and how it will treat Trump's "attacks" on the press.

wildswan said...

Another ambush - Chernow hates Trump.

"A group of historians whose life’s work has consisted of studying the men, women and events that shaped America have banded together to speak out against Donald Trump.
Ron Chernow, who wrote the biography of Alexander Hamilton that inspired the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton,” said the Trump campaign disturbed him more than “any other presidential campaign in our history.”

“I’m disturbed by the words missing from the Trump campaign: Liberty, justice, freedom and tolerance,” Chernow said. “The only historical movement that Trump alludes to is a shameful one: America First,” he said, referring to Trump’s foreign policy slogan, which shares its name with an anti-Semitic group from the 1940s."

rehajm said...

How ignorant to perpetuate the meme that WH revoking Acosta credentials was a constitutional threat- it was because Acosta is a grandstanding disruptive jerk. WHCA can wallow in it all they want but it won’t help them in the long run.

The loss of a ‘comedian’ is no loss. Sounds like the replacement will have the exact same goals in his performance. His playing of the victim card might have better optics than an arrogant unfunny prick comedian.

Rob said...

The comedians they've hired haven't been funny for several years. The absence of humor won't be any change at all, and sparing the audience from the painful stabs at it is simple mercy.

Bob Boyd said...

"The dinner, intended to commemorate comity between the president and his press corps"

Why even have it then?

Of course it's not intended to commemorate comity blah blah blah. It's a chance for the DC in-crowd to celebrate their own perceived importance.

Bob Boyd said...

I wonder how many comedians turned down the gig.

wildswan said...

America First opposed American entry into World War II until after Pearl Harbor, when it disbanded. One of its early members was John F Kennedy, another was Gerald Ford. The Communists were for America First (while the Hitler-Stalin pact survived) until they were against it (following the invasion of Russia by Hitler.). The chief spokesman, Charles Lindbergh, made anti-Semitic speeches and became a member of the American Eugenics Society; he, however, became the darling of the conservation movement after World War II. In short, America First, like nationalism is a complex phenomena and it might take as much as an hour to study either one of them and explain them properly.

John Pickering said...

Here's wildswan who thinks that asking the president to respond intelligently to an evening about the first amendment amounts to an ambush. It's like Ann endorsing lies as a strong argument.
Trump is through though, just like it appears, as regards this blog, that a bunch of Ann's smarter supporters seem to be. Ann herself is checking out soon, there's a bit of at long last in her that her conscience won't deny.

mccullough said...

Maybe this historian can host the Oscars, too.

gilbar said...

no comedian would crack jokes at its annual black-tie dinner in April.
i don't understand, they didn't have a comedian last year either, so what's the deal?

gilbar said...

i see this ties into the Princess Bride thread from last night

comity You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means..

narciso said...

That's what Dan Crenshaw said.

Breezy said...

Why can’t the WHCA stop the juvenile behavior already? This is just embarrassing. If they want comity, then FFS go for comity!
This is not it.

Molly said...


Well, if Trump is through, he's still pretty good at hexing the opposition on his way out the door.

Witness the fact that the WHCA has abandoned the stupid comic tricks. "Dead as we know it" is right.

Witness the fact that Avenatti is charged with felony abuse and has just been thrown out of his law office for nonpayment of rent.

Witness the fact that Stormy Daniels tells Oxford Union her porn-writing career has been destroyed by "Donald Trump and politics." Maybe she shoulda taken the 130K and left the rest.

As Glenn Reynolds might say, "Heh."

Nick said...

Who are we kidding: They haven't had a comedian at the Dinner in years.

chickelit said...

Perhaps Pence could attend instead of Trump so the little babies could boo him like they did at Chernow's show on Broadway.

narciso said...

Don Surber calls it the curse, a dollop of schadenfreude,

RK said...

"I’m disturbed by the words missing from the Trump campaign: Liberty, justice, freedom and tolerance,” Chernow said."

Liberty: "Obama has been a disaster, in terms of religious liberty."
Justice: "That’s why I am running: to end the decades of bitter failure and to offer the American people a new future of honesty, justice and opportunity."
Freedom: "We are going to replace this disaster with reforms that give you choice and freedom and control in health care at a much, much lower cost."
Tolerance: "I have no patience for injustice, no tolerance for government incompetence, no sympathy for leaders who fail their citizens."

YoungHegelian said...

“I’m disturbed by the words missing from the Trump campaign: Liberty, justice, freedom and tolerance,” Chernow said.

Does Chernow ever read any Right-wing stuff? Like, ever? Liberty is one of those words that the American Right throws around at every opportunity. The Trumpies were all for justice, too, like making sure that powerful folks like the Clintonistas had to abide by the same laws governing classified material as a lowly contractor at the NSA. They were for "freedom", too. Just "freedom" to actually deliver a speech on conservative thought at a publicly funded university without getting shouted down. They also supported "tolerance", like "tolerating" an order of Catholic Nuns who could not in conscience violate the 2000 year old principles of their faith because of a law promulgated by a Democratic Congress that not many years ago would have granted them exemption to bi-partisan agreement.

TRISTRAM said...

I'll be willing to bet he is funnier, in a wry way, than any of the recent speakers.

Jupiter said...

His biography of Rockefeller was pretty good.

Tank said...

Obama was pretty good, why not invite him and have a laugh riot at Trump’s expense?

rcocean said...

They haven't had a comedian in years. The last funny one was Norm.

So, what's the change?

They made fun of Republicans when Bush was POTUS

And then when Obama became President, they made fun of Republicans

So now after 2 years of trashing Trump with a "comic" they'll try a scholar. But why this particular scholar? I think we know the answer.

RK said...

“I’m disturbed by the words missing from the Trump campaign: Liberty, justice, freedom and tolerance,” Chernow said.

Instead of a speech on the First Amendment, Chernow should give a lecture on how spending two minutes with Google can dramatically improve journalists' fact-checking.

cacimbo said...

The real question is why this smug fest is televised. Hopefully that tradition also ends.

rcocean said...

BTW, here's some Presidential Humor. I'm skimming through some Nixon-Ford Books, and found the following:

"Ford was monumentally irked when Reagan did not step aside and let Ford run against Carter in 1980"

Good Ol' Jerry - what a blockhead.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

Even they're getting tired of listening to the echoes. They need Trump so much they couldn't stop talking about him to save their lives.

n.n said...

Liberty: The demand to not tolerate, but endorse politically congruent (PC) preferences.
Justice: The basis for diversity or color judgments, including: racism, sexism. Warlock trials and denial of due process. The progress of monopolies and practices under redistributive change schemes. Take a knee to the people who lead human rights reform.
Freedom: The choice to deny life deemed unworthy of life for social progress under the Twilight Amendment. The denial of civil rights, including: summary judgments, cruel and unusual punishment. To exploit labor and environmental arbitrage to gerrymander the vote and "green" solutions.
Tolerance: Political congruence ("=") or selective exclusion. And a clear and progressive anti-nativism. To #Label and #Judge individuals and classes by the "color" of their skin. To deplatform politically incongruent causes and individuals.

rcocean said...

"I’m disturbed by the words missing from the Trump campaign: Liberty, justice, freedom and tolerance,” Chernow said."

Words missing from the Hillary Campaign: Patriotism, Rule of Law, Bill of Rights, Freedom.

n.n said...

To set up a "Fourth Estate", including corporations, and utilities, that enjoy publishing privileges and immunity above and beyond a common citizen.

robother said...

Crack jokes? I don't consider the crack epidemic a laughing matter.

rcocean said...

Have you listened to a Press Conference lately?

Its not just Acosta (Who was Cheered by his fellow reporters) - there's a whole bunch of them that CONSTANTLY ask Trump if he's a racist or supports "White Nationalism".

Trump should NEVER go to the WHPC dinner.

dwick said...

"This one certainly gets my Era of That's Not Funny tag."

Good... more WINNING as far as I'm concerned.
What did anyone expect with the #Resistance media's precipitous descent into mean-spirited puerile humor full of degrading insults and offensive sexual innuendo? It's just another example of why we can't have nice things.

What kind of example is being set in Washington when the WHCD becomes something you wouldn't want your kids (and maybe even parents or grandparents) to watch or listen to.

walter said...

The clip wildswan's post quotes:

He's disturbed...

Andrew said...

I still am genuinely shocked that so few journalists understand anything about the First Amendment. For example:
1) "Freedom of the press" refers to the freedom of every citizen to publish.
2) "Freedom of the press" does not refer to the press as an entity, i.e. the Fourth Estate.
3) The First Amendment begins with "Congress shall make no law," and is a limitation on Congressional power.
4) The First Amendment does not guarantee a right to press conferences. If the President decides never to hold another press conference ever again, that is a transparency issue, but has nothing to do with the First Amendment.
5) Criticizing the press, whether legitimately or not, is not an attack on the First Amendment. In fact, such criticism is protected by the First Amendment.
6) Numerous presidents in our history have expressed contempt for the press, and the First Amendment was never implicated.

Andrew said...

Maybe Chernow could talk about Hamilton's love for the electoral college.

FIDO said...

Why should he go? They hate him, he hates them, and one side doesn't even bother to pretend anymore.

Trump shouldn't either. This is Civility Bullshit.

I liked Chernow's Hamilton. But I doubt I agree with much the man himself believes. Or should I say, I doubt he agrees with me at all. Lot of intolerance on the Left.

And if the President isn't there, why should I listen to these pompous blowhards congratulate themselves? He is the reason anyone pays attention.

William said...

I also read the Chernow bio of Rockefeller. Here's what Rockefeller accomplished: he provided a reliable product--kerosene--at a reasonable price that changed for the better the lives of millions. At a time when Ida Tarbell's father was making oil barrels--wooden ones--, Rockefeller was building oil tanker railway cars --fleets of them. Not just beluga whales have reason to be grateful to Rockefeller. Here's what Ida Tarbell accomplished: she wrote a series of investigative reports that revealed the predatory (i.e. shrewd) business practices that made it possible for Rockefeller to produce an increasingly superior product at an increasingly lower price......Guess which person the WHCA reveres and which person they despise. More fools they......I don't think this view of the relative weight and importance of entrepreneurs vs journalists will be espoused in his speech.

narciso said...

Upton Sinclair was another one of these so called muckraker, who provided less than met the eye.

William said...

I voted for Trump largely because he wasn't Hillary. It was more a protest vote than an affirmation of faith. I was surprised and a little uneasy when he won. I thought there was a real possibility he could turn out to be Jessie Ventura. Well, he's been President for two years, and so far so good. There are no internment camps, nuclear wars, widespread soup kitchens, etc. The news has been mostly good and mostly unreported.......The zeal with which the press has reported the President's undeniable character flaws has to some extent damaged his reputation but that same zeal has done far more harm to their own reputation......It's quite possible for a grubby real estate developer with a past history of fucking porn stars to know things that are not dreamt of in the books that they write. The press has even less humility than Trump and with none of his humor.

narciso said...

Whose press are more impenetrable us or them:

If he was to acceed to the throne it would not be good.

narciso said...

You thought any of those results were probable, that's like something out of that Frank Miller comic give me liberty or running man.

PhilD said...

"The Communists were for America First (while the Hitler-Stalin pact survived) until they were against it (following the invasion of Russia by Hitler.)."

But then Barbarossa started on 1941/06/22 and Pearl Harbor was on 1941/12/07. So communists supporting America First on isolation until June 22 says something important but only about those same communists.
Now if America First had become warlike on June 22 then Wildswan would have had a point there. But they didn't. The USA was attacked in 12 1941 and, not to forget, Hitler in a moment of insanity declared war on the US. I'm quit sure that reacting on an attack and on a war declaration was totally uncontroversial except in the mind of someone like Wildswan.
Nevertheless, points to discover the evils of communism even if it took only 3/4 of a century.

Btw, the greatest USA Stalin (aka 'Uncle Joe') lover, FDR, had nothing to do with America First.

tim maguire said...

“Gentlemen (cause you know they’re all white men), we have to make some changes. As I see it, we have two choices. Either we get rid of the nasty childish political hits and return this forum to its roots, or we get rid of the comedians. So which do we get rid of? Partisan politics and or comedians?”


JAORE said...

I'm sure the WHCD ratings will SOAR when the unfunny comedian is replaced by the hectoring lecture.

Tina Trent said...

It is a good thing when events that magnify the celebrity and therefore the cultural power of the press are suppressed.

Maybe Newseum, that building-sized porn magazine stimulating the media's onaniatic egotism, will blow a fuse too.

Also, one might hope Chernow won't talk about his genitals as much as Wolf did. All in all a win.

tim in vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...

I'm sure the WHCD ratings will SOAR when the unfunny comedian is replaced by the hectoring lecture.

Exactly. I deleted my comment because this comment says it all.

tim in vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin said...

So, Trump was right about the Correspondents' Dinner being "dead as we know it."

More broadly, over the previous 2 or 3 decades it had changed from a nice event where journos and pols could socialize, into the media-driven "Oscars for ugly people." It had lost not only whatever soul it once had, but its entire reason for being and any claim to being interesting.

As with other things, all Trump did was point out the obvious (that is was a self-righteous celebration by a bunch of jerks whom nobody likes) and draw a reasonable conclusion (why should I abase myself for their benefit?).

Darkisland said...

Blogger RK said...

Instead of a speech on the First Amendment, Chernow should give a lecture on how spending two minutes with Duck Duck Go, Bing or another search engine can dramatically improve journalists' fact-checking.

Fixed it for you.

Friends don't let friends drive drunk or use Google.

John Henry

Darkisland said...

Blogger wildswan said...

America First opposed American entry into World War II until after Pearl Harbor, when it disbanded.

Actually, America, by a large majority, 70-80% of the populace opposed American entry into WWII-E (Europe). Even after Pearl Harbor and up to when Germany declared war on the US a few days later.

The general feeling was that the Germans had never done anything to us.

FDR ran on a platform of keeping us out of any European wars. We had had a bellyful in 1917. (Wilson also ran in 1916 on the platform of having kept us out of WWI)

But, from about 1939 on, FDR was at war with Germany. He financed Britain's war effort, gave them destroyers, occupied Iceland on their behalf, conducted warfare against German subs, Issued a sink on sight order to the Navy against German warships and more.

All of this before the Germans declared war on the US, all of it against the express wishes of a large majority of the American people.

WWII-E was a completely unnecessary war for us. We had no dog in the fight at all.

As for why Germany, stupidly, declared war on the US, read their "Declaration of War" which outlines their reasons. They are essentially the same as I gave above. Here is the key part:

The Government of the United States having violated in the most flagrant manner and in ever increasing measure all rules of neutrality in favor of the adversaries of Germany and having continually been guilty of the most severe provocations toward Germany ever since the outbreak of the European war, provoked by the British declaration of war against Germany on September 3, 1939, has finally resorted to open military acts of aggression.

On September 11, 1941, the President of the United States publicly declared that he had ordered the American Navy and Air Force to shoot on sight at any German war vessel. In his speech of October 27, 1941, he once more expressly affirmed that this order was in force. Acting under this order, vessels of the American Navy, since early September 1941, have systematically attacked German naval forces. Thus, American destroyers, as for instance the Greer, the Kearney and the Reuben James, have opened fire on German submarines according to plan. The Secretary of the American Navy, Mr. Knox, himself confirmed that-American destroyers attacked German submarines.

Full test at

Even after we got into the war, we still relied heavily on the draft. SOmething like 60-70% of all US soldiers in WWII were draftees, not volunteers. There was never any overwhelming, or even underwhelming, support among the American populace to get mixed up in this. Most American's ancestors had fled Europe specifically to get away from this kind of thing.

We had no dog in the fight, we should never have been involved.

After the German declaration of war, we had no choice to do otherwise. But our actions, while proclaiming "neutrality" made it inevitable.

Thanks FDR.

America First had it right all along. Not that Hitler was a good guy (a lot of progressives thought so for a long time) but because it was none of our damn business. The one thing we might have, legitimately, done would have been to offer refuge to escaping Jews in the 30s. But FDR moved Heaven and Earth to make that impossible.

Thanks again, FDR.

John Henry

stlcdr said...

It will be a First amendment speech about how much the press (The Press) is the little guy, under attack by the evil bully Trump.

Sebastian said...

A Free Amendment speech about the press -- with James Risen and James Rosen flanking him?