By James Hibberd
November 19, 2018 at 12:27 PM EST
REX/Shutterstock

For the first time in decades, the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner will be a humor-free zone.

The White House Correspondents’ Association announced Monday that biographer Ron Chernow will host the 2019 event, which normally includes a comedian who roasts the current administration and the news media.

But this year will be a safe space for President Trump, his staff and media personalities, prompting last year’s host, Michelle Wolf, to slam the WHCA as “cowards.”

Ironically, Chernow will discuss the importance of free speech at the event.

“The White House Correspondents’ Association has asked me to make the case for the First Amendment and I am happy to oblige,” Chernow said in the association’s news release. “Freedom of the press is always a timely subject and this seems like the perfect moment to go back to basics.”

Wolf’s set last year was particularly scathing and drew its share of critics, but also some praise for its boldness. On Monday, she tweeted: “The @whca are cowards. The media is complicit. And I couldn’t be prouder.”

According to The Washington Post, the dinner has featured a stand-up act by a celebrity comic since the early 1980s. After Wolf’s set last year, some news organizations who are WHCA members reportedly threatened to pull their financial support unless the comic set was eliminated.

WHCA President Olivier Knox wrote in a press release: “I’m delighted that Ron will share his lively, deeply researched perspectives on American politics and history at the 2019 White House Correspondents’ Dinne. As we celebrate the importance of a free and independent news media to the health of the republic, I look forward to hearing Ron place this unusual moment in the context of American history.”

Trump has skipped the dinner during both previous years of his presidency, and last year tweeted, “The so-called comedian really ‘bombed.'”

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