The White House Correspondents Association has canceled its annual dinner, saying health concerns during the coronavirus outbreak have made it impossible to hold the event.
WHCA President Jonathan Karl made the announcement Tuesday “with great regret.” The dinner had been postponed from late April to Aug. 29, but Mr. Karl said safety concerns made even that later date untenable.
“We’ve been working hard to reconfigure the dinner in ways to make it safe for guests and staff,” he said. “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.”
The president usually speaks at the dinner, although President Trump has skipped all three years and was unlikely to have attended this year. The event, normally held in a jam-packed hotel ballroom in Washington, also raises money for journalism scholarships.
The dinner is the main fundraising source annually for the White House journalists’ group.
Mr. Karl said the group is working on a “virtual presentation that would allow us to salute award-winning journalism, toast an impressive group of scholarship winners, and still enjoy a few laughs.”
He encouraged would-be attendees to convert the payments for their dinner tickets to fully tax-deductible contributions.
“We would also welcome any contributions to help us put together a virtual event to celebrate the crucial role of a free press in our democracy and to pay tribute to our award winners and our scholars,” Mr. Karl said.