The White House Correspondents' Association has officially canceled its annual dinner, calling off the formal gathering for high-profile journalists after initially rescheduling it for the end of August due to the coronavirus pandemic. Comedian Kenan Thompson had previously been announced as the host, with the event's 2017 host, Hasan Minhaj, set to perform again.
"We've been working hard to reconfigure the dinner in ways to make it safe for guests and staff," WHCA President Jonathan Karl wrote on Tuesday in an email to members, as per Politico. "But 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."
The dinner was originally planned for April, but postponed in March as the coronavirus pandemic made large gatherings of people inside unsafe. A month later, the WHCA rescheduled for Aug. 29, saying at the time that it would continue to consult with health professionals to determine if that would be a safe time to gather.
The Association added it did "not want to let this moment pass, however, without telling the truly inspiring story of journalism in 2020, particularly White House journalism with Karl saying the organization was working to put on a virtual celebration of the First Amendment and the people working in journalism today, as well as award recipients of the group's scholarships and yearly awards "and still enjoy a few laughs." It has yet to be confirmed if Thompson or Minhaj will be a part of the digital celebration.
The event lovingly referred to as "nerd prom" by people in the media has traditionally been an evening in which the president is given the chance to roast and be roasted by the people who cover their actions in office. President Donald Trump, however, has skipped the White House Correspondents' Association's annual dinner every year since he took office amid an increasingly hostile relationship with the media. In 2019, he insisted that all administration officials boycott the dinner as well, reported CNN at the time. "The dinner is so boring and so negative that we're going to hold a very positive rally," Trump told reporters at the time. He was not expected to attend this year's dinner as well.