WASHINGTON — President Trump does not plan to participate in the year’s White House Correspondents Association dinner.
The organization announced that the White House had informed them that he did not plan to go to the event on April 28. He did not attend last year’s event either, breaking a long tradition.
The WHCA said that Trump will “actively encourage” members of the executive branch to attend and that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will represent the administration at the head table.
Michelle Wolf, a comedian who has appeared on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah,” will provide the entertainment at the event. She recently signed to host her own late-night Netflix series.
“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,” said Margaret Talev, the president of the WHCA and White House correspondent for Bloomberg.
Trump’s decision not to attend comes as somewhat of a surprise, as he attended another press tradition, The Gridiron Club dinner, in early March and appeared to be enjoying the evening. He even tweeted about it later.
But he has continued his attacks on the news media and what he sees as unfair and dishonest coverage. Last year, just weeks into his administration, he announced on Twitter that he would not attend. Around that time, he even referred to the “fake news media” as the “enemy of the American people.”
With Trump absent, the dinner instead focused more on press freedom and the First Amendment. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein spoke, and there was a noticeable drop in the number of celebrities attending as guests of media organizations.
This year, some media outlets have already announced their guests. Kathy Griffin said that she would attend as a guest of the Washington Blade and the Los Angeles Blade, the LGBT news outlets. She has been staging a comeback after losing work following her posting of a fake severed head of Trump on Twitter last year that was part of a satirical photo shoot. She later apologized.
Trump last year was the first president to miss the WHCA dinner since Ronald Reagan in 1981. Reagan was recovering after being shot in an assassination attempt, and instead called into the dinner to address the crowd via audio.