Recently, Donald Trump announced that he will not attend April's White House Correspondents' Dinner (WHCD), an annual tradition organized by the White House Correspondents' Association. Trump's refusal to attend is rare among presidents. The last time a president missed it was Ronald Reagan in 1981 — and he was recovering from an attempted assassination. While the entire rationale for his decision may never be known, the (at least) 22 jokes about Trump at White House Correspondent Dinners may provide some insight as to why the president may be reluctant to attend this year's event.
Jokes are a key component of the dinner. The evening usually features a designated entertainer who will make jokes about politics, politicians, and current events, often specifically mocking people in the room — especially the president. In turn, the president often also delivers a speech, which is typically a combination of jokes and a more serious reflection on the importance of the press.
While many people have been mocked at WHCD over the years, Trump has featured particularly prominently during several dinners. Trump attended his first WHCD in 2011, where he was roasted by Barack Obama and host Seth Meyers. He also attended the event again in 2015, where he was hardly mentioned. Trump did not attend Obama's last WHCD in 2016, where the former President and host Larry Wilmore made many jokes featuring Trump as the punchline.
The following is a compilation, in chronological order, of jokes made about Trump at former WHCDs from 2011 (his first in-person dinner) onward.
Trump has no elaborated on why he won't attend this year's WHCD, though considering how testy he has been towards even Saturday Night Live sketches, it's hard not to wonder if it's simply that he can't bear jokes at his expense. And considering the 22 jokes below were all cracked before he became president, Trump is certain to be the butt of many of them at the 2017 dinner.
1. Don't Make Birther Claims & Expect NOT To Be Mocked
"No one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. That's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like: Did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?" -President Obama, 2011
2. Questionable Presidential Experience
"All kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example, no, seriously, just recently in an episode of 'Celebrity Apprentice,' at the steakhouse, the men's cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around, but you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership and so, ultimately, you didn't blame Little John or Meatloaf -- you fired Gary Busey. And these are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well-handled, sir. Well-handled." -President Obama, 2011
3. Presidential Aspirations
"Donald Trump has been saying that he will run for president as a Republican - which is surprising, since I just assumed that he was running as a joke." -Seth Meyers, 2011
4. "Foxy" Hair
"Donald Trump often appears on Fox, which is ironic because a fox often appears on Donald Trump's head." -Seth Meyers, 2011
5. Birther Round Two
"And if I can, for a moment, talk about the birther issue, when did we get so suspicious about where people were born? A USA Today poll last week said 38 percent of Americans think the president was definitely born in the U.S. In the same poll, in the very same poll, only 5 percent more said Donald Trump was definitely born in the U.S. Has it reached the point where Americans only think something — someone was born here if they saw it. I know I was born here, and I know my younger brother was born here. But when it comes to my older brother, I can only take him at his word?" -Seth Meyers, 2011
6. Miss USA for VP?
"Donald Trump owns the Miss USA pageant, which is great for Republicans because it will streamline their search for a vice president." -Seth Meyers, 2011
7. Gary Busey's Endorsement
"Gary Busey said recently that Donald Trump would make an excellent president. Of course, he said the same thing about an old, rusty birdcage he found," -Seth Meyers, 2011
8. Trump's Relationship With The Black Community
"Donald Trump said recently, he has a great relationship with the blacks, though unless the blacks are a family of white people, I bet he's mistaken." -Seth Meyers, 2011
9. Maybe Trump & Sean Spicer SHOULD Switch?
"I like that Trump is filthy rich, but nobody told his accent. His whole life is marbles and gold leaf and marble columns, but he still sounds like a know-it-all down at the OTB. Mr. Trump may not be a good choice for president, but he would definitely make a great press secretary. How much fun would that be." -Seth Meyers, 2011
10. Where Is Donald?
"Although I am a little hurt that he’s [Trump's] not here tonight. We had so much fun that last time, And it is surprising. You’ve got a room full of reporters, celebrities, cameras. And he says no. Is this dinner too tacky for the Donald? What could he possibly be doing instead? Is he at home eating a Trump steak, tweeting out insults to Angela Merkel? What’s he doin’?" -President Obama, 2016
11. Miss Universe And Foreign Policy
"The republican establishment is incredulous that he is their most likely nominee. Incredulous. Shocking. They say Donald lacks the foreign policy experience to be president. But in fairness, he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world: Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan."-President Obama, 2016
12. Sick Real Estate Burn
"And there is one area where Donald’s experience could be invaluable and that’s closing Guantanamo because Trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground." -President Obama, 2016
13. In Retrospect, This One Stings
"I don’t want to spend too much time on The Donald. Following your lead, I want to show some restraint. Because I think we can all agree that from the start he’s gotten the appropriate amount of coverage befitting the seriousness of his candidacy. Ha. I hope you all are proud of yourselves. The guy wanted to give his hotel business a boost and now we are praying that Cleveland makes it through July." -President Obama, 2016
14. The Poor Man's Version Of Mike Bloomberg
"Sitting at the same table I see Mike Bloomberg. Mike, a combative, controversial New York billionaire is leading the GOP primary and it is not you. That has to sting a little bit. Although it’s not an entirely fair comparison between you and the Donald. After all Mike was a big city mayor. He knows policy in depth. And he’s actually worth the amount of money that he says he is." -President Obama, 2016
15. Paid For By Mexico
"Nice to be here, though, at the White House correspondents’ dinner, or as you know they’re gonna call it next year, 'Donald Trump presents a luxurious evening paid for by Mexico.' I’m very scared of that." -Larry Wilmore, 2016
16. The "Whiteness" Of Trump Rallies
"And let me just say, Mr. President, the office has taken its toll on you. You look terrible, Mr. President. No, you do, man! I mean look at you! Your hair is so white, it tried to punch me at a Trump rally." -Larry Wilmore, 2016
17. On Being "More Presidential"
"Donald Trump, now Donald Trump says he’s going to try and be more presidential. It’s true, he’s serious about it, too. So he says that now, when he boasts about his genitalia during a debate, he’s only going to refer to it as his President Johnson. That’s it. LBJ? Oh, very good." -Larry Wilmore, 2016
18. Kid Gloves For His Appropriately-Sized Hands
"And I can’t understand why everyone treats Donald Trump with kid gloves. And then I realized they’re the only gloves that’ll fit his stupid, little baby hands. Oh, man." -Larry Wilmore, 2016
19. Morning Joe Bears Some Of The Brunt
"Whenever I turn to the TV, I see Trump’s family campaigning for him, gushing all over him. Or as it’s also known as, Morning Joe... Morning Joe has their head so far up Trump’s ass they bumped into Chris Christie."-Larry Wilmore, 2016
20. Just A Regular Ol' Tuesday
"You know what it is with Donald Trump? Donald Trump looks like the rich dad in every episode of Law & Order where the frat kid accidentally strangles a hooker. Right? Doesn’t he? Or as they say here at the Washington Hilton, Tuesdays." -Larry Wilmore, 2016
21. Destroying the Earth
"But guys I am not surprised Donald Trump is happening to America because I watch movies, I do. And every time there’s a black president, something always comes to destroy the earth. Always. It’s true." -Larry Wilmore, 2016.