Historian Ron Chernow, famous for his biographies of Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, and John D Rockefeller, delivered the keynote speech at the 2019 White House Correspondents' Dinner. He praised journalists for their "noble work to preserve democracy" and cracked wise about presidential history.
"We now have to fight hard for basic truths that we once took for granted," he said. "When you chip away at the press, you chip away at our democracy."
He also cracked a few jokes in a position usually reserved for comedians, and said America needs comedians "now more than ever, during this surreal interlude."
"As best I can tell, Washington committed only one major blunder as President, he failed to put his name on Mount Vernon and thereby bungled an early opportunity at branding," Chernow joked. "Clearly deficient at the art of the deal, the poor man had to settle at the lowly title of 'Father of his Country.'"
He said George Washington, like "every future president," felt maligned by the press, "but he never generalized that against a vendetta against the institution."
He ended his speech with a classic Mark Twain joke: "As we head into election season, I leave you with one last gem from Twain: 'Politicians and diapers must be changed often and for the same reason.'"
Watch Chernow's full speech: