President Donald Trump will once again skip the annual dinner held by the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), scheduled this year for April 28.
The news comes as no surprise, as Trump has been a prolific and vocal critic of the media, especially on his Twitter account, railing against what he calls “fake news” issued by “failing” media outlets like CNN and the New York Times.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will attend in the President’s place.
WHCA President Margaret Talev released the following statement:
The White House has informed us that the president does not plan to participate in this year’s dinner but that he will actively encourage members of the executive branch to attend and join us as we celebrate the First Amendment. In keeping with tradition, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also will represent the administration at the head table. The April 28 dinner celebrates award-winning reporting, scholarship winners and the vital role of the First Amendment and the free press in American democracy.
The annual event has been held by the WHCA since 1921, to present journalism awards and raise money for scholarships, and has prominently featured comedic roasts since the early 1980s.
Trump was infamously the target of a number of these jokes when he attended in 2011, both from that year’s host, Seth Meyers, and during President Barack Obama’s time at the microphone. The camera caught Trump in the audience several times with an annoyed expression on his face and there has been speculation that the taunts helped spur him into running for president, which he has denied.
Trump is far from the first president to skip the WHCA dinner. Jimmy Carter skipped it in 1978 and 1980, and Richard Nixon — another White House resident with a prickly relationship with the Fourth Estate — did not attend in 1972 or 1972.
Ronald Reagan was not at the 1981 dinner, but he had a very valid excuse — he was still in recovery from a gunshot wound after the assassination attempt by John Hinckley, Jr.
Last year, Trump not only did not attend, he held a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to celebrate the first 100 days of his presidency. It is not yet known whether a similar event will be held this year.
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