WASHINGTON (AP) — No, thanks. President Donald Trump says he’s got better things to do than attend the “boring” and “negative” White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
Trump said Friday he’ll hold one of his signature political rallies as counter-programming to the glitzy April 27 press dinner, skipping the event for the third year in a row.
“The dinner is so boring and so negative that we’re going to hold a very positive rally instead,” he said.
Presidents and first ladies have traditionally attended the event, a fundraiser for college scholarships where politicians, journalists and celebrities mix. A number of reporting awards also are distributed at the dinner.
Trump has not attended the dinner since he took office, but had suggested he might appear this year after organizers scrapped the usual format featuring a comedian and instead invited Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow to speak.
Association President Olivier Knox said in a statement: “We’re looking forward to an enjoyable evening of celebrating the First Amendment and great journalists past, present, and future.”
Trump, who has long had an adversarial relationship with the news media, also held rallies on the same night as the dinner in 2017 and 2018. Throughout his presidency, he has criticized the “fake media” and “dishonest” reporters, singling out specific journalists and news outlets.
Trump said his team has yet to settle on a location for his April 27 rally, but stressed: “It’ll be a big one.”
The association decided to shift to a featured speaker instead of a comic after a sharply anti-Trump performance last year by comedian Michelle Wolf that some thought was too pointed against White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and other White House staff.
Chernow, a biographer of presidents and statesmen including George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, is expected to speak about the importance of the First Amendment. Chernow, like many of his fellow historians, strongly opposed Trump’s candidacy in 2016 and labeled him a “demagogue.”
While Trump has not attended the dinner as president, he has gone in the past. He was famously mocked by President Barack Obama at the 2011 dinner.