President Trump will not attend the White House correspondentsâ dinner, after a campaign and early tenure where he continually battled with the press.
Trump announced his decision on Twitter late Saturday afternoon. The dinner is scheduled for April 29.
I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!
â Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
Shortly after Trumpâs tweet, the president of the White House Correspondentsâ Association, which sponsors theÂ annual event, said in an email that the dinner would take place even without Trumpâs attendance.
â[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,â WHCA president Jeff Mason said. âWe look forward to shining a spotlight at the dinner on some of the best political journalism of the past year and recognizing the promising students who represent the next generation of our profession.â
Since Trumpâs inauguration, calls to boycott the annual event have grown louderÂ amidÂ his increasingly fraught relationship with the press. Throughout his campaign, Trump regularly lashed out at the press, singling out news outletsÂ for being âdishonestâ and at one point barring The Washington Post from covering his campaign events. SinceÂ his election, he has accused certain media outlets of publishing âfake news.â Earlier this month, the tense relationship reached a boil when Trump called the media âthe enemy of the American People.â
In response to concerns, the White House Correspondentsâ Association released a statement earlier this month, saying the dinner would take place. Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and Bloomberg canceled their parties, which had usually drawn celebrities. Comedian Samantha Bee announced in January that she was planning an alternative event on the same night for âjournalists and non-irritating celebrities from around the world.â (ItsÂ tentative name: âNot the White House Correspondentsâ Dinner.â)
Questions about whether the dinner was appropriate existed 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 Correspondentsâ AssociationÂ awards $100,000 in scholarships at its annual dinner, according to its website, and recently started a mentoring program that pairs working journalists with journalism students.
The annual dinner 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 didnât show up that year, according to The Washington Postâs Paul Farhi.
In 1981, Ronald Reagan still managed to deliver remarks by phone even though he was at Camp David recovering from an assassination attempt.
âIf I could give you just one little bit of advice, when somebody tells you to get in a car quick, do it,â Reagan said to laughter.
Trump has attended the dinner before.
In 2011, then-president Barack Obama roasted Trump at the dinner â five minutes of jokes directed at the man who had raised questions about whether Obama was born in the United States.
âNo one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald,â said Obama, who ultimately released his birth certificate. âThatâs 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?â
At the time, Obama joked about Trumpâs experience to lead the nation.
âAll kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience,â Obama said. âFor example, no seriously, just recently in an episode of âCelebrity Apprentice,â at the steakhouse, the menâs cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around but you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the problem was a lack of leadership and so ultimately you didnât blame Little John or Meatloaf â you fired Gary Busey. And these are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well-handled, sir. Well-handled.â
Obama ended his roast talking about the change a President Donald 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.