Karl said the association is “working at this moment on a virtual presentation that would allow us to salute award-winning journalism, toast an impressive group of scholarship winners, and still enjoy a few laughs.”
The association, including journalists who cover the president and the White House, planned to bring the tradition of comedy back to this year’s event after the dinner turned contentious in 2018, when White House press secretary Sarah Sanders became the target of several controversial jokes by comedian Michelle Wolf. The backlash resulted in a more serious tone for 2019’s event, with historian Ron Chernow as the featured speaker.
Before the spread of the coronavirus, the WHCA announced Kenan Thompson would host the dinner, with 2017 headliner Hasan Minhaj joining him as a featured entertainer. Both comedians had confirmed their attendance for the new date in August, but it’s unclear if they will be involved in a potential virtual event.
In a decision atypical of previous administrations, President Trump has not attended the dinner since taking office.