“I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year,” the president tweeted. “Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!”
Trump’s tweet ends months of will-he, won’t-he speculation about his attendance at the annual Washington gathering, which has hosted every sitting president since Calvin Coolidge at least once since its 1921 founding. Trump’s decision not to attend the dinner comes after his repeated criticisms of the press as “fake news” and accusing some outlets of being “enemies of the people.” Several news outlets publicly stated they were rethinking their attendance at the dinner amid Trump’s unprecedented attack on the news media.
In early February, association president Jeff Mason informed members that the dinner would take place whether or not Trump attends. “The White House Correspondents’ Association looks forward to having its annual dinner on April 29,” Mason said Saturday. “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. We 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.”
Trump attended the dinner in 2011, in which he was famously lampooned both by then-President Barack Obama and the evening’s entertainer, comedian Seth Meyers, for his false public assertions that Obama was not born in the United States. This year’s dinner, which also funds a scholarship program run by the association, is scheduled for April 29.