President Trump announced in a tweet Saturday afternoon that he will not be attending the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner scheduled in April.
The group, which comprises reporters from various news outlets that cover the presidency, later said in a statement that the event will go on as planned 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,” Association president Jeff Mason of Reuters said in a statement.
Despite WHCA’s determination, a dinner without the president will not be as newsworthy. The last time the head of America’s executive branch failed to attend the annual press gathering was in 1981, shortly after Ronald Reagan was shot outside a Washington hotel.
Mr. Trump’s announcement comes a day after various “liberal” news outlets were barred from a post-press conference question-and-answer session with White House aide Sean Spicer. Those media organizations not allowed to speak with the press secretary included the New York Times, CNN, BuzzFeed and TIME.
In speech earlier Friday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump decried the news media as “the enemy of the people,” and claimed that many of the negative stories reported about his new administration have no factual backing.
“They have no sources, they just make them up when there are none,” Trump said.
WHCA, founded in 1914 during President Woodrow Wilson’s administration, has been hosting an annual dinner since 1921. Sitting presidents began attending the event shortly thereafter, stating with Calvin Coolidge in 1924.
Since 1983, the WHCA dinner has typically been hosted by a comedian in a roast-style format, with a speech by the president himself.
[Reuters] [Roll Call] [Photo courtesy Business Insider]