The White House Correspondents’ Association announced on Monday that Vice President Mike Pence will deliver the ceremony’s keynote address on April 27, when the organization’s signature gala, the Nerd Prom, will take place in Washington, D.C.
Why is it held in Washington, D.C.? Well, every year since 1981, it has been held at the Washington Hilton. Last year, in the midst of the ongoing government shutdown, the WHCA moved the event to the Washington Convention Center, also in the nation’s capital. And for the first time in 25 years, this year’s gala will not be hosted by comedian Michelle Wolf, who served as Master of Ceremonies last year. A Washington Post review of the event, which was held at the headquarters of the Alliance for Women in Media, concluded that Wolf made “fairly savage and even funny fun of many in the room.”
(Wolf has since tweeted to say that she has been misquoted in the past, and she prefers the term “gracious.”)
The announcement of the evening’s host was made by WHCA president Margaret Talev, who is also the director of corporate communications for Showtime Networks. She told reporters, “In the past, WHCA has been very cautious in picking a comedian as our host. As we’ve seen in recent years, comedians can also be inadvertent targets of the president and his administration, and we don’t want to do anything to contribute to the public narrative or undermine the First Amendment or the First Amendment of our Constitution.”
Talev noted that Trump will not be attending this year’s dinner and was not asked to do so. Some Trump supporters, including some Republicans, have argued that the presence of so many journalists and their supporters could discredit the president and undermine his credibility.
The White House Correspondents’ Association is not a political organization, according to Talev, adding that the first demand for dinner tickets was that there must be journalists present. She added that any guest of the president is free to attend the dinner.
The first dinner was held in 1930 as the original version of the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. It’s been an annual event since 1981, and this year’s event will be presented by Spotify. Also, guests of the heads of state attending are not given tickets. (The information gathered by the media organizations attending the dinner is confidential, and such requests must be approved by the White House prior to the event.)
There will be a number of non-journalists in attendance who will be introduced as special guests by the WHCA president and other WHCA staff members, but it’s unclear whether either of the awards announced for the evening will be given out to specific journalists.
When asked if Trump plans to attend this year’s gala, Talev said, “We will announce a date for the invitation that was actually sent to the president later.” She noted that “Washington is a great town,” and that “we had good coverage of the WHCA dinner even during the shutdown.”
WGBH, the Washington-based public broadcasting station that has organized the WHCA Dinner for nearly 80 years, tweeted congratulations to Pence on Monday, writing: “Vice President Mike Pence to deliver the keynote address at the Nerd Prom. Please come!”
And on Monday night, Chelsea Clinton, who has often come under fire for her relationship with the Trump administration, tweeted her excitement: