President Donald Trump hinted Tuesday that he may attend next year’s White House correspondents’ dinner, calling it a “good first step” by the organizers to select biographer Ron Chernow as the featured speaker rather than a comedian.
The White House Correspondents’ Association announced Monday that Chernow will headline the black-tie dinner in April, after an edgy performance by last year’s speaker, comedian Michelle Wolf, generated complaints from the heads of some major news organizations, as well as the White House.
“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,” Trump tweeted Tuesday night. “Good first step in comeback of a dying evening and tradition! Maybe I will go?”
The event has typically featured a routine by a stand-up comedian who roasts the White House and the press, with the president delivering a few punchlines of his own. But Trump has boycotted the dinner for the past two years, and the event has drawn scrutiny from some critics who say it gives the appearance of a too-cozy relationship between journalists and the politicians they cover.
At last year’s dinner, Wolf lampooned White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who attended the dinner and sat at the head table in her boss’s stead.
“She burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye,” Wolf said of Trump’s spokeswoman, whom she also likened to an “Uncle Tom, but for white women who disappoint other white women.”
In reaction to Monday’s announcement, Wolf tweeted that the White House Correspondents’ Association “are cowards” and that “the media is complicit.”
Wolf also responded to Trump in a tweet Tuesday night. “I bet you’d be on my side if I had killed a journalist,” Wolf said, in an apparent reference to the president’s defense of Saudi Arabia following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last month.
She ended the tweet with the hashtag #BeBest, the name of first lady Melania Trump’s anti-bullying campaign.
Washington Post writers Emily Heil and Paul Farhi contributed to this report.