Not even the President of the United States will be attending this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, an annual event that started in 1921. Donald Trump announced over Twitter that he’s skipping the festivities.
“I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!”
Prior to this unexpected announcement, The New Yorker canceled its traditional kick-off party in light of growing tension between the president and journalists. Elsewhere, Vanity Fair pulled out of co-sponsoring its own after-party. A spokesperson for Bloomberg, the party’s other co-sponsor, told Axios in a statement that they, too, would be bowing out.
According to reports, CNN and MSNBC are considering bailing on the event, wherein the standing president and first lady traditionally mingle with the media. (Calvin Coolidge was the first president to attend, in 1924.)
Jeff Mason, president of The White House Correspondents’ Association, which handles the dinner, released a statement saying the dinner will go on as planned on April 29.
“The WHCA takes note of President Donald Trump’s announcement on Twitter that he does not plan to attend the dinner, which 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,” he said in part.
See both tweets below.
Trump has been waging a war against mainstream media and routinely calling outlets like CNN, The New York Times, NBC, ABC, and CBS “failing” and “fake news.” On Friday, the White House blocked CNN, the Times, Politico, The L.A. Times, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, and other outlets from attending a press briefing. The move was denounced by many, including the WHCA.
“The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today’s gaggle is being handled by the White House,” Mason said in a statement on the matter. “We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not. The board will be discussing this further with White House staff.”
Typically, a comedian hosts the dinner in which they roast the president, other political figures, and the media. Larry Wilmore, Cecily Strong, Joel McHale, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, and Seth Meyers have all hosted in past years. When Meyers hosted in 2011, he savaged Trump, who was in attendance and didn’t seem pleased with the jokes. “I didn’t like his routine. His was too nasty, out of order,” Trump said last year.
Celebrities, comedians, and journalists were quick to respond to Trump’s latest announcement. See a sampling below.