Trump Won’t Attend White House Correspondents’ Dinner for Third Year in a Row

President Donald Trump listens to a question during a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office of the White House, in WashingtonTrump, Washington, USA - 14 Mar 2019
Evan Vucci/AP/REX/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump told reporters on Friday that he would not attend this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, and will instead hold a rally the eventing of April 27.

Trump said the event was “too negative” — perhaps a reference to the scathing humor by last year’s featured comic, Michelle Wolf. Trump did not attend that dinner, either, but some members of his administration were there, including Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and were targets of Wolf’s jokes.

This year, the White House Correspondents’ Association decided not to feature a comedian for the evening’s entertainment, and instead will have author Ron Chernow as a headliner. A number of members of the WHCA said that Wolf’s humor was too harsh, and urged that the organization rethink the idea of inviting an entertainer.

Because of that, there had been some anticipation that Trump would attend the dinner, even as he has relentlessly attacked the media as “fake news.”

“The dinner is so boring and so negative, that we’re going to hold a very positive rally,” Trump said, before embarking on a trip to California.

Still, the president defended his own use of negative humor. On Thursday he tweeted out a doctored video of former Vice President Joseph Biden’s statement this week in which he said that he would be “more mindful about respecting personal space in the future.” The video that Trump tweeted shows a Biden figure creeping up on himself, grabbing his shoulders and giving the back of his head a kiss.

Biden responded by tweeting, “I see that you are on the job and presidential, as always.”

Trump told reporters that Biden is “going through a situation, let’s see what happens. But people got a kick [out of the tweet]. We got to try smile a little bit, right?”

Trump has not attended any of the dinners since he has been in the White House, although he did go in years past. In 2011, while in the audience, Trump was a target of President Barack Obama’s jokes that evening. Obama mocked Trump’s plans to run for president.

Even without the president, the dinner has continued to be a hot ticket in Washington. This year, UTA is planning a party the night before the event, and Samantha Bee is holding another “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner” at DAR Constitution Hall. The Bee event will be taped and air the next evening on TBS, as the actual dinner is taking place.

Trump’s Friday plans in California include a visit to Calexico to view a completed section of border wall, then attend a Beverly Hills fundraiser for his 2020 reelection and the Republican National Committee.

Olivier Knox, president of the WHCA, said in a statement, “We’re looking forward to an enjoyable evening of celebrating the First Amendment and great journalists past, present, and future.”