Although she said in 2017 that it would be an isolated event, Samantha Bee's Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner is back anyway. As it did before, the event will air on TBS on Saturday, April 27 at 10 p.m. ET alongside the real, official dinner which will air on CSPAN. Last time, viewers without cable were able to stream Bee's event on Twitter, but so far, it's unclear if that resource will be available this year.
“I vowed never to host a NWHCD ever again,” the Full Frontal host said in the event's trailer. “But the White House Correspondents’ Association has left me no choice — it is now up to comedy journalists to take care of real journalists. Even if those journalists insist on wearing corduroy.” The decision to hold the alternative dinner again despite her past claims comes from the White House Correspondents' Association's election of historian Ron Chernow — rather than the routine comedian — to be the night's featured speaker.
The formal dinner has taken place since 1914, and acts as a night to honor the First Amendment and the White House press corps, as well as award scholarships. The president usually attends, but since he took office in 2017, Donald Trump has not attended. He does not plan to attend the 2019 dinner, and according to Politico, has instructed members of his administration to also boycott the event.
"It really is part of the social contract," Bee said on The Stephen Colbert Show on April 18. "When you're the president you're supposed to show up once a year for your 20 minutes of getting roasted by a comedian. That's just my opinion. That's part of the deal. You got to be able to take it."
The last comedian to host the formal dinner in 2018 was Michelle Wolf, who received scathing criticism after her set, especially for her discussion of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. So it's only fitting that Bee invite a robot version of Sanders to her 2019 event "just to keep us in check because we often tell inappropriate jokes," she told Colbert. According to TBS, Bee will headline the event with other celebrity guests and there will be "better food than last time." All proceeds collected by the dinner will go to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
"Ultimately, we are honoring journalists, and journalism is under siege for sure so we want to highlight that. But ultimately we want to have a fun night," Bee said in an interview with CBS This Morning. "We want to provide an alternative event that is joyful and celebratory and ridiculous."
In promotion of the NWHCD, Full Frontal has criticized the WHCA's decision to invite Chernow with fervor. "The White House Correspondents' Association hired a historian to host the Correspondents' Dinner this year," the show tweeted. "But why not have a historian do a comedian's job? We have a reality star doing a president's job."
They've also invited historians of their own to weigh in. “It’s bigger than just the Free Press this time around,” Bee said. “This is about the non-sexy parts of the First Amendment, too — and if the White House Correspondents’ Association won’t defend them, we will.”