If you were looking forward to seeing the president at the White House Correspondents' Dinner (WHCD) on Saturday, April 28, you might be disappointed. President Trump won't be at the White House Correspondents' Dinner for the second year in a row. Like last year, Trump will hold a rally that same night, this time in Michigan.
In April, The Hill reported that the president spoke on the Bernie And Sid In The Morning show on 77 WABC and said that he would "probably" not go to the WHCD. "It's unlikely I will do the White House Correspondents' Dinner this year," Trump said. "I sort of feel like the press so bad, it’s so fake, it’s so made up. So I just think I want to get it straightened out with the press before I do it."
Trump's refusal to attend to the WHCD was confirmed by the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) President Margaret Talev. "The White House has informed us that the president does not plan to participate in this year's dinner," Talev said, "but that he will actively encourage members of the executive branch to attend and join us as we celebrate the First Amendment."
So, is the White House going to send any representative from the Trump administration to the dinner? Yes. You can look forward to seeing Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders there, who Talev noted "will represent the administration at the head table."
Last year, the president declined the WHCD invitation and held a campaign rally in Pennsylvania instead. At the time, when a Reuters journalist asked if he would show up at the 2018 dinner, Trump said, "I would come next year, absolutely." But it looks like plans have changed for the president.
In 2017, Trump's absence at the event caused some unpleasant feelings among some. Former WHCA member Julie Mason spoke with The Hill and voiced her criticism of Trump's move. "I feel bad, because a lot of White House reporters are going to have to go and cover that [rally] and not come to our own dinner," Mason said. "It’s one thing for him to stay home, and that was fine. And he can just tweet about us and be mean, and that would be kind of funny, and it would feel right. But for him to stage a competing event — we just can’t even have our dinner? We just can’t even do that?"
While some may think that it isn't important for the president to attend the WHCD, others may point to its lengthy and star-studded political history. The annual dinner, which was held for the first time in 1921, has garnered the status of a coveted event where politicians, celebrities, and members of the press celebrate the importance of the free press. Talev wrote in a statement about the event: "The April 28 dinner celebrates award-winning reporting, scholarship winners and the vital role of the First Amendment and the free press in American democracy."
Trump's absence may worry some, but there is a bit of good news. The White House Correspondents Association president Talev pointed to Sanders' expected presence at the WHCD as a sign of a "good thing." Talev spoke at the National Press Club on Friday and said that there was "something a little bit different about [the White House's] posture, the administration's posture this year."
Talev added, "The White House telling us that while the president himself doesn't feel comfortable attending this year, he is going to actively encourage his Cabinet, his advisers, the executive branch who have received invitations to attend that dinner."