"We must now fight hard for basic truths that we once took for granted," he said.
Chernow, the author of the Alexander Hamilton biography that inspired the hit musical "Hamilton," was invited to the site of a comedian. The historian was well received as he alternated between clever jokes and a call to arms for democracy.
He only mentions President Donald Trump by name once, but the rhetoric of the President "People's Enemy" kept coming out.
He also said that everyone present was part of "Team USA, not members of enemy camps."
His advice to the press? He quoted billionaire investor Warren Buffett and said, "Always on the highway, there it is much less."
News organizations that had bought tables for the annual fundraiser and invited the White House staff suddenly had some places to hand over to others.
At pre-dinner cocktail parties, several journalists said the event was less tense without the presence of White House officials torn between their daily jobs and the president's anti-media attacks.
A small number of Trump helpers, including the adviser to President Kellyanne Conway, attended some of those present. However, social events took place before dinner on Saturday night.
Conway, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and comedian Jay Leno posed at a garden brunch on Saturday morning trying to raise money for veterans.
In the Washington Hilton's Ballroom, Olivier Knox, President and Chief DC Correspondent of the White House Correspondent Association, discussed his efforts to realign dinner to First Ame
He said, "We can attack the press in a globalized manner He also notes how the term "fake news" has been adopted by politicians in other countries to censor news agencies. 1
After the award of several prizes Chernow was on the line.
He made a few jokes and said America needs a comedy "now more than ever in this surreal interlude."
Chernow put the Trump years into the story context. He said that George Washington, like "any future president," was annoyed by the press, "but he has never generalized this against a vendetta against the institution."
There was applause for this line – a clear criticism of Trump's sweeping. "People's Enemy" rhetoric.
But there was also applause when he said that relations between the press and the president were "inevitably hard, almost always counterproductive, but they did not have to be poisoned". He said that our best presidents treated the press as "grace, charm, openness, and even humor."
Chernow ended by paraphrasing a joke by Mark Twain: "Politicians and diapers often have to be changed – and for the same reason."