White House Correspondents’ Association cancels annual dinner over COVID-19 concerns

The White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner was once a top event in Washington D.C., though its tone had notably shifted from humorous to more somber during President Donald Trump’s first term.

Now, however, the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) has announced that this year’s gala will be canceled — not because of Trump or sagging ratings, but due to ongoing health concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, as Breitbart reported.

“It is just not possible”

News of the cancellation came in a statement from ABC News White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, who currently serves as the WHCA president. He posted his letter to the association’s members to Twitter on Tuesday.

“With great regret, we will have to cancel our planned dinner on Aug. 29,” he wrote.

Karl noted that efforts had been made to “reconfigure” the event in a way that would ensure the health and safety of all involved.

“But after consultation with medical experts, government authorities, and our own members, we’ve concluded that it is just not possible to put on the kind of dinner that promotes the best in journalism and allows our guests to comfortably and safely enjoy themselves,” he added.

Though the event will not take place as planned, Karl made it clear that he wanted to recognize the “truly inspiring story of journalism in 2020” as reporters covered a range of unprecedented and rapidly developing news stories.

“Virtual presentation”

Instead of a traditional gathering, Karl said the association is working on a “virtual presentation” allowing for the presentation of awards and scholarships while providing an opportunity to “still enjoy a few laughs.”

Karl went on to encourage those who would have otherwise attended the dinner to consider donating the money they would have used on tickets to make a tax-deductible donation to the WCHA.

Reports earlier this year indicated that the dinner would once again embrace the lighter side of politics, announcing that Saturday Night Live¬†cast member Kenan Thompson had been slated to host. But it looks like the show won’t go on.

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the nation and cases spike in many regions, this annual event is just the latest cancellation to be announced as a result.

Still, while it might be a disappointment to many of the D.C. establishment media and political elite, the dinner is not likely to be missed by Trump and many of his supporters.

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