Historian Ron Chernow To Host, Speak About First Amendment Press Rights At White House Correspondents Dinner

A color guard holds up the American Flag during the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2017.
Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

The emcee at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner is traditionally a comedic speaker, someone who generally roasts several people in the room from both sides of the aisle in attempts to lighten the mood in the room.

This year, however, many journalists feel that there isn’t much to laugh about when it comes to their profession. So the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), which puts on the dinner, is going in a different direction.

Rather than have another comedic host at its dinner, scheduled for April 27, this year the WHCA invited famed biographer Ron Chernow to speak about the importance of press rights and freedoms, according to a press release from the WHCA.

“The White House Correspondents’ Association has asked me to make the case for the First Amendment and I am happy to oblige,” Chernow said in a statement. “Freedom of the press is always a timely subject and this seems like the perfect moment to go back to basics.”

Chernow is a renowned historian who has won several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, for his biographies. He’s written about J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and George Washington. His most notable book, however, was a biography on Alexander Hamilton — the book was itself an inspiration for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s popular musical “Hamilton.”

Chernow knows his history — it’s his profession — and promised his speech wouldn’t be completely devoid of flavor.

“While I have never been mistaken for a stand-up comedian, I promise that my history lesson won’t be dry,” he added.

At a time when the White House is presently being sued by a major news organization for barring one of its journalists from covering President Donald Trump, as previous reporting from the Inquisitr has noted, Chernow’s speech on the First Amendment protections for members of the media is likely meant to send a message to Americans about the institution’s importance in our lives, as well as be a direct rebuttal to this administration’s attempts to curtail those freedoms.

Chernow understands the important role his speech will serve to educate the masses.

“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.”

The WHCA expressed its gratitude for the historian agreeing to speak. “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,” Olivier Knox, president of the WHCA, said.