The White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) announced it would be reversing course from last year’s comedy-free programing. The 2020 White House Correspondents Dinner will be hosted by Saturday Night Live cast member Kenan Thompson and feature comedian Hasan Minhaj.
Chief White House Correspondent for ABC News and president of WHCA Johnathan Karl said Thompson and Minhaj are two of the most “engaged and engaging entertainers in America.”
“I’m thrilled they’ll help us celebrate the role of a free press in our democracy,” Karl said.
— WHCA (@whca) February 18, 2020
Last time Minhaj spoke at a correspondents’ dinner he blamed Congress for accepting donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and several mass shootings. At the 2016 Radio & Television Correspondents’ Association dinner, Minhaj said accepting money from the NRA is the reason Congress failed to act on gun control legislation.
“You make almost $200,000 a year to write rules, to make our society better — not tweet, not to tell us about your ‘thoughts and prayers.’ To write rules to make our society better. And right now since 1998, the NRA has given $3.7 million to Congress. There are 294 sitting members of Congress that have accepted contributions from the NRA, and that doesn’t even include the millions of dollars from outside lobbying,” Minhaj said.
Minhaj concluded with a rant about the Orlando night club shooting and said, “if $3.7 million can buy political influence to take lives, if we raise $4 million, would you guys take that to save lives?”
Minhaj got the statistics wrong, however, he conflated the dollars given to the NRA with the fact the NRA has 3.7 million members. An out-dated statistics that predates the Obama administration.
As Ben Domenech pointed out at the time, “the NRA gives far more than 3.7 million dollars because they represent far more Americans than Minhaj recognizes.”
The White House Correspondents Dinner has a history of allowing controversial comedians to headline the annual event. In 2018, comedian Michelle Wolf delivered a vulgur monologue that described Ivanka Trump as helpful to women as an “empty box of tampons” and vicious remarks about former Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.