Hasan Minhaj, a US-born comic whose parents immigrated to California from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, will on April 29 headline the first White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) dinner with President Trump in the Oval Office. However, Trump and his White House staff had announced in February that they would not be attending the dinner, claiming that the mainstream media was biased against them.
Also on the night, Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post, Edward Isaac-Dovere of Politico, and David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post will be presented the 2017 WHCA journalism awards by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein at the Washington Hilton.
"It is a tremendous honor to be a part of such a historic event even though the president has chosen not to attend this year. SAD! Now more than ever, it is vital that we honor the First Amendment and the freedom of the press," said Minhaj in a statement, poking fun at the President.
From repeatedly calling the media “dishonest”, charging it with reporting “fake news” and banning CNN from entering the White House for press conferences, Trump and his cohorts have developed adversarial ties with the press to such an extent that the dinner - an annual event where journalists, entertainers and the sitting US President dine together and make humorous speeches poking fun at the US Head of State and his policies – was set to be a fractious affair this year.
"I am thrilled that Hasan will serve as our featured entertainer at this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner," said Jeff Mason, WHCA president and White House Correspondent for Reuters, in a statement on the WHCA website. "Hasan's smarts, big heart and passion for press freedom make him the perfect fit for our event, which will be focused on the First Amendment and the importance of a robust and independent media.”
Minhaj, 31, joined Comedy Central's infotainment programme The Daily Show in 2014 and is currently billed as a senior correspondent or senior political analyst. He joins the likes of Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Peter Sellers, Jay Leno, and, more recently, John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, and Seth Meyers who have hosted the WHCA dinner.
On The Daily Show, Minhaj has made a name for himself with viral segments like ‘Minhaj's Muslim Makeover’. Most recently, he spoke out against the Muslim ban and Trump in a segment on the April 13 edition of the show.
Minhaj also has experience as the host of his own web series, The Truth with Hasan Minhaj, which ran from 2012-2013 and was produced by the sketch group GoatFace Comedy.