Trump declines to attend correspondents’ dinner
President Trump will not attend the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, after a campaign and early tenure in which he continually battled with the press.
Trump announced his decision on Twitter late Saturday afternoon: “I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!”
Shortly after Trump’s tweet, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, which sponsors the annual event, said in an email that the dinner would take place without Trump’s attendance.
The dinner “has been and will continue to be a celebration of the First Amendment and the important role played by an independent news media in a healthy republic,” WHCA President Jeff Mason said.
The dinner is scheduled for April 29.
Since Trump’s inauguration, calls to boycott the event have grown louder amid his increasingly fraught relationship with the press.
Throughout his campaign, Trump lashed out at news organizations, singling out certain outlets as “dishonest.” Since his election, he has frequently accused the media of reporting “fake news.” Earlier this month, the tense relationship reached a boil when Trump called the media “the enemy of the American People.”
In response to concerns, the White House Correspondents’ Association released a statement earlier this month saying the dinner would take place. Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and Bloomberg have canceled their parties.
Questions about whether the dinner is appropriate were raised before Trump took office. The event is an annual gathering of journalists and the people they cover, typically headlined by the sitting president. The White House Correspondents’ Association awards $100,000 in scholarships at the dinner, according to its website.
The event began in 1921, and Calvin Coolidge became the first president to attend the dinner in 1924. In 1978, Jimmy Carter declined to attend, citing exhaustion. First lady Rosalynn Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale also didn’t show up that year, according to The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi.
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan managed to deliver remarks by phone while he was at Camp David recovering from an assassination attempt.
“If I could give you just one little bit of advice, when somebody tells you to get in a car quick, do it,” Reagan said to laughter.
In 2011, President Barack Obama roasted Trump at the dinner, directing five minutes of jokes at the man who had raised questions about whether Obama was born in the United States.
“No one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald,” said Obama, who ultimately released his birth certificate. “That’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like: Did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”
Obama ended his roast talking about the change a President Trump would bring to the White House.
Then he flashed a picture of the then-hypothetical Trump White House, emblazoned with pink neon and gold columns, with bikini-clad women relaxing in the fountain outside.