Donald Trump announces he’s not going to the White House Correspondents Dinner, because of course he isn’t

Image: Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Correction: This article previously said Trump would be the first president to skip the dinner. Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter both sat out years, and Ronald Reagan couldn’t make it the year he was shot in an assassination attempt. The story has been updated, accordingly.

Amid an ever-escalating war with the media, Donald Trump tweeted Saturday that he wouldn’t attend the White House Correspondents Association’s annual dinner.

The dinner is an opportunity for a comedian to roast the press and the president, and for the president to roast everyone else. Only rarely in the event’s 100-year history, have sitting presidents declined to attend.

The president offered no explanation for the decision, but it’s not hard to chance a few guesses for his reasoning. Among the possibilities:

  • His vitriolic battle with the “opposition party” media reached new heights recently after he barred several major outlets from a White House press gaggle.

  • Trump has previously been roasted by comedians and presidents alike at the Correspondents Dinner. It’s never gone well for him there. Some reports even credit Obama’s scorching takedown in 2011 as the impetus for Trump’s 2016 run.

  • The move comes after Vanity Fair and the New Yorker announced they would sit out the event this year. CNN and MSNBC have also said they are considering skipping, and Bloomberg cancelled its premiere afterparty.

  • And Trump had a notoriously hard time booking talent for his inauguration. Perhaps he didn’t want to endure the embarrassment of signing another low-profile act or risk one who might deliver bruising mockery to his face la Stephen Colbert’s 2006 appearance.

The glitzy event, sometimes referred to as “#NerdProm,” is one of Washington’s biggest social events, taking up an entire weekend’s worth of activities, and is regularly attended by a slew of celebrities. It’s been described as the political establishment’s equivalent of the Oscars.

The WHCA, a trade group comprised of news outlets that cover the president, said in a statement Saturday that the event would go on as planned.

The group slammed the administration the day before for its unprecedented decision to shut out certain White House reporters from a press briefing.

The decision may mark a historic low point for relations between the White House and the press. As one reporter noted on Twitter, Richard Nixon even showed up to the dinner after some of the dinner’s attendees uncovered the information that would eventually lead him to resign in disgrace.

As president, Trump has taken nearly every public appearance as an opportunity to rail against the “unfair” and “dishonest” “FAKE NEWS” media, and routinely fumes at various outlets on his Twitter account.

Things got particularly heated recently when he called the media “the enemy of the American people.” Before that, his administration emailed supporters and media a lengthy survey on media bias filled with almost-comically loaded questions.

Most journalists did not seem too broken up about Trump’s RSVP reversal on Twitter Saturday.

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