President Trump took to Twitter late Tuesday evening to praise the White House Correspondents’ Dinner for dumping their traditional comedy routine this year and used it as an opportunity to make a shot at former Netflix star Michelle Wolf.
“So-called comedian Michelle Wolf bombed so badly last year at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner that this year, for the first time in decades, they will have an author instead of a comedian,” said Trump. “Good first step in comeback of a dying evening and tradition! Maybe I will go?”
Wolf — who delivered a biting, but divisive monologue at last year’s dinner — fired right back.
“I bet you’d be on my side if I had killed a journalist,” she said, adding the hashtag “#BeBest” — a callout to First Lady Melania Trump’s campaign against cyberbullying. The line is a reference to Trump’s decision Tuesday to largely forgive Saudi Arabia for what is widely believed to be their direct role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Earlier this week, the White House Correspondents’ Association announced they would break with the usual comedy act in favor of historian Ron Chernow, who is expected to speak about the First Amendment.
“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 press statement, which also promised he would do his best to keep it from getting too dry.
“Freedom of the press is always a timely subject and this seems like the perfect moment to go back to basics. 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,” he said
Trump has boycotted the annual dinner since he became president amid increasingly fraught relations with the national media, many member of which he routinely denigrates as “fake news” and “enemies of the people.” Presidents of both parties have attended for decades. The last president before Trump to skip the event was Ronald Reagan in 1981, who was recovering from an attempted assassination.