The White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which airs annually on C-SPAN, will be down at least one major guest this year.
President Donald Trump on Saturday took to Twitter to declare that he will not be attending this year’s press gala on Saturday, April 29. The announcement comes just one day after Trump banned several reputable news outlets — including The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN — from access to a White House press briefing, and after months of referring to various news media as “fake news.”
Trump was famously mocked by Seth Meyers back when the Late Night host presided over the WHCD. During a recent sit-down with Jimmy Fallon, Meyers described Trump as “not a guy who loves a good zinger at his expense,” and went so far as to suggest that it was his joke that inspired the former Apprentice host to run for office.
“Donald Trump has been saying that he will run for president as a Republican, which is surprising, since I just assumed he was running as a joke,” Meyers quipped during his April 30, 2011 hosting stint (embedded below).
In recent years, the WHCD has been hosted by The Nightly Show‘s Larry Wilmore (2016), Saturday Night Live‘s Cecily Strong (2015), Community‘s Joel McHale (2014) and TBS funnyman Conan O’Brien (2013). As of now, there has been no host announced for this year’s affair.
Back in January, Full Frontal‘s Samantha Bee announced that she was planning a rival event — called “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner” — to take place in Washington, D.C. on the same night as the actual Correspondents’ dinner. In an interview with The New York Times, Bee said that the idea came to fruition following Trump’s November victory, when she and her staff began pondering how the Correspondents’ dinner might change under a Trump presidency — “or if it would even exist.”
According to NBC News’ Bradd Jaffy, the last 15 U.S. presidents have attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Ronald Reagan, who was recovering from a 1981 assassination attempt, even managed to call into the event. Trump will be the first sitting president since 1924 not to attend the dinner.
In response to Trump’s tweet, White House Correspondents’ Association president Jeff Mason released the following statement, assuring that the dinner will go on as planned and serve as a “celebration of the First Amendment”:
The White House Correspondents’ Association looks forward to having its annual dinner 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. 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.