The Daily Show‘s Hasan Minhaj will host the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner April 29th, NBC reports – however, the comedian’s biggest target will not be in attendance. President Donald Trump announced in February that he would skip the annual event, making him the first President since Ronald Reagan to do so.
The Correspondents’ Dinner typically features a comedian or entertainer roasting the President, the administration and members of the media, while the Commander in Chief also gets a chance to crack a few jokes. However, Trump’s adverse relationship with the press, coupled with his inability to maturely handle even comedic criticism, cast numerous doubts over how the first Correspondents’ Dinner of his administration would play out. Before Trump had even declined to attend, several news organizations had withdrawn from the event, while Vanity Fair and Bloomberg canceled their after-party and The New Yorker canceled its pre-party.
White House Correspondents Association President Jeff Mason announced that Minhaj would helm the event on Morning Joe Tuesday. “It’s a different dinner,” he said. “President Trump has said that he will not be coming, but we will still be celebrating the First Amendment and the importance of a free press.” Along with taking on President Trump, Mason said he hoped Minhaj would riff on issues facing the media, such as threats to the free press and fake news.
Minhaj has been fiercely critical of Trump, both on The Daily Show and when he hosted last year’s Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association Dinner. In January, the comedian, who is Muslim, skewered the President amidst the chaos of his first failed travel ban, cracking, “We’re on Day 11, man! That’s it. Where do you think this is gonna go? It’s like watching the first episode of Breaking Bad, thinking, ‘Oh, it’s just a science teacher cooking meth. It can’t get any crazier.’ But it does.”
While Minhaj handles the Trump-free Correspondents’ Dinner at the Washington D.C. Hilton, Full Frontal host and Daily Show alum Samantha Bee will host her own “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner” at the nearby Willard Hotel. Bee’s event will air on TBS and proceeds will go towards the Committee to Protect Journalists.