Ron Chernow brought lots of history, a little humor | News Coverage from USA

Ron Chernow brought lots of history, a little humor

WASHINGTON – This year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner was less of a roast and more of a toast.

The event’s featured speaker, historian Ron Chernow, focused on celebrating the history of journalism and the First Amendment, the main theme of the evening, as opposed to cutting comedy on the administration. 

Although Chernow’s speech was a contrast to last year’s biting (and controversial) performance by comedian Michelle Wolf, that didn’t stop the Pulitzer Prize winner from cracking a few jokes.

He first poked a bit of fun at himself for being selected in lieu of a comedian.

“They wanted to try ‘boring’ at this year’s dinner, and I said, ‘Oh, I can deliver on that big time!’ ” he began. “So here I am, your 20 minute sedative for the evening,”

He then went on to make some subtle jabs at President Trump, first noting his absence from the annual bash thrown by the White House Correspondents’ Association. This was the president’s third time skipping the event.

“At first I was puzzled by this news, but then I learned that a rumor was circulating in Washington that I was going to be reading aloud the redacted portions of the Mueller report and everything was explained,” he said.

More: Samantha Bee, Robert De Niro roast Trump at ‘Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner’

Chernow then went on to make a jab at Trump’s nickname for the media, saying he researched the night’s audience by reading Henrik Ibsen’s play “An Enemy of the People.”

“I hadn’t realized before that the president was a student of Norwegian literature,” he joked.

When beginning a story about Alexander Hamilton, Chernow also referenced Trump’s statements earlier this month that the United States was “full” and couldn’t accept migrants.

“Hamilton, an immigrant who arrived, thank God, before the country was full,” he said.

Earlier in the evening, Former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland Michael Steele said he wasn’t surprised a non-comedian was taking the stage this year.

“You know what, it wasn’t surprising to me because in the last two years the come comedians have been off-pitch,” he told USA TODAY at the newspaper’s pre-dinner reception. “And it’s hard for a comedian to come in and do Washington – because we’re not that funny. We may do some funny stuff, but we don’t have a great sent of humor here sometimes.”

He also predicted the dinner would be tamer than years past, but still enjoyable.

“It won’t be as rollicking as it’s probably been in the past, but I think it’ll still be a great evening,” he said.

Others, however, were a bit disappointed there wouldn’t be a typical roast.

British publicist Rob Goldstone, who made headlines for setting up a Trump Tower meeting with members of Trump’s presidential campaign and a small group of Russians, told USA TODAY he would have loved there to be some “outrageous humor.”

“I think it gives the person being attacked, as some might say, a bit of humanity,” he said.

He also said it was “a shame” that Trump wasn’t there.

“I think it’s a missed opportunity,” he said. “He shouldn’t shy away from this. He could’ve shone at something like this and maybe gained a few friends in the room at the same time.”

More: Michelle Wolf ‘wouldn’t change a single word’ she said at White House Correspondents Dinner

More: Michelle Wolf jokes about WHCD hate on ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers’: ‘Everyone loved it’

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