The annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner has officially been canceled. The dinner, which is normally held in late April, had already been postponed until the end of August due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In an email to members of the White House Correspondents’ Association, WHCA president and ABC News Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl wrote that “after consultation with medical experts, government authorities, and our own members, we’ve concluded that it is just not possible to put on the kind of dinner that promotes the best in journalism and allows our guests to comfortably and safely enjoy themselves.”
Karl added that many of the dinner’s sponsors will be converting their ticket purchases to charitable contributions instead, and that the organization hopes to hold a virtual event to honor the award winners and scholarship recipients.
The dinner is among the highlights of the Washington social calendar, and the main source of revenue for the WHCA, which hands out scholarships to aspiring reporters and awards to journalists that cover government and politics. Afterparties hosted by Bloomberg, Vanity Fair and MSNBC would attract Hollywood stars and D.C. power players.
Traditionally the president attends the dinner, where they are roasted by a guest comedian before taking the podium to roast the press. However, President Trump has skipped the event since taking office in January 2017. Last year the WHCA held a more somber event with historian Ron Chernow serving as the guest speaker.
In February, the WHCA had announced that Saturday Night Live star Kenan Thompson would be the guest host, returning the event to the more traditional comedy format. A month later, with the pandemic spreading across the country, nearly all live events were thrown in doubt.