For the second year in a row, President Donald Trump is ditching the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, which has frequently included sitting presidents as guests of honor.
As in his first year in office, Trump plans to instead make an appearance at a campaign-style rally, this time in Michigan, according to The Hill.
Prior to his decision to skip last year’s event, the last time a president missed it was in 1981, as President Ronald Reagan was recovering from an assassination attempt.
Trump announced his decision in a February 2017 tweet, telling attendees to “wish everyone well and have a great evening!”
I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
His decision to skip Saturday’s event surprised few D.C. pundits given last year’s precedent and his acrimonious relationship with multiple news media outlets. The president did, however, engage with journalists last month with an uncharacteristically self-deprecating speech at an annual affair hosted by the Gridiron Club.
During a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on the same night as last year’s correspondent’s dinner, Trump mocked the annual affair.
“A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our nation’s capital right now,” he said.
He went on to claim that those gathered for the formal event in D.C. “would love to be with us right here tonight” but are “trapped at the dinner, which will be very, very boring.”
Without mentioning the dinner directly, Trump similarly touted his high expectations for a competing rally in Michigan this week.
Look forward to being in the Great State of Michigan tonight. Major business expansion and jobs pouring into your State. Auto companies expanding at record pace. Big crowd tonight, will be live on T.V.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 28, 2018
“Look forward to being in the Great State of Michigan tonight,” he wrote. “Major business expansion and jobs pouring into your State. Auto companies expanding at record pace.”
He also predicted a big crowd, adding that the rally “will be live on T.V.”
While the president’s decision to skip the dinner has earned him support from key allies, some analysts suggest he has missed an opportunity to appear more likable.
Comedian Michelle Wolf, who is hosting the event, called Trump “cowardly” for skipping it, adding that his presence would have made it easier for the jokes to be delivered in good nature.
“I like making fun of people to their face more than anything, like, more than behind their back,” she said. “It’s nicer to make fun of someone when they’re there.”
The Hill cited a Boston University communications professor who said blame for the dysfunction between Trump and the media is not just a result of presidential provocations.
“From the start of primaries the media has been obsessed with Trump and vice versa,” Tobe Berkovitz said.
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