Why Isn't Trump Going To The White House Correspondents' Dinner?

by Chris Tognotti
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Well, it's almost here: the 2017 White House Correspondents Dinner is right around the corner, even though it'll be missing its most high-profile traditional guest this time around ― namely, the President of the United States. And unfortunately, if you're wondering why Trump isn't at the WHCD, he hasn't given any specific explanation.

Trump himself announced he'd be skipping the dinner this year on his Twitter account back in February, saying "I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!" No precise reason was given.

However, if you take White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders' word for it, it sounds like discord with the press might be the reason for it. Following Trump's tweet, Sanders told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that it would be "naive" to think there wouldn't be tension in the building if the president showed up. Though she did use a line about Girl Scouts that indicated she was pinning the blame for that tension on the media.

George, I think it's pretty safe to say we spend enough time around one another as it is. But look, this wasn't a president who was elected to spend time with reporters and celebrities. This was a president who campaigned on speaking directly to Americans, and that's exactly what he's going to spend his time doing. ... You know, one of the things we say in the South, if a Girl Scout egged your house, would you buy cookies from her? I think that this is a pretty similar scenario. There’s no reason for him to go in, and sit, and pretend like this is going to be just another Saturday night.
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It's also worth remembering the last time Trump attended the dinner, back in 2011, when he endured quite the roasting from former president Barack Obama. And make no mistake, amid his birtherism-fueled pseudo-campaign (he repeatedly teased running for president but never officially jumped in), he definitely deserved the quips.

But the dinner isn't just an evening for the president to crack a few jokes at the expense of the press. Traditionally, it also involves a comedian poking fun at the president, with perhaps the most memorable example being Stephen Colbert's scathing performance at the 2006 dinner.

It's entirely reasonable to suspect that Trump wouldn't care for either of those. Despite his experience as a reality TV star, his tense and bitter performance at the traditionally light, good-humored Al Smith dinner last year didn't suggest someone comfortable reading prepared jokes. And being publicly made fun of, needless to say, doesn't seem like his thing either.

In short, there are perilously few reasons Trump would logically want to attend the dinner, and the decision is entirely up to him. The dinner will still proceed regardless, although there reportedly won't be anyone from the White House in attendance, as a show of "solidarity" with the president.