President Donald Trump will not attend the White House Correspondents Association Dinner for the second year in a row, according to the organizers.
“The White House has informed us that the president does not plan to participate in this year’s dinner but that he will actively encourage members of the executive branch to attend and join us as we celebrate the First Amendment,” WHCA president Margaret Talev said in a statement.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders will attend in his place. Sanders faces the media in most of the daily briefings at the White House.
Trump became the first president since Ronald Reagan to skip the dinner last year. Reagan did not attend in 1981 because he was recovering from an assassination attempt.
Trump has lambasted liberal media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, ABC, and NBC, for dishonest coverage of his campaign and presidency. On Friday, he slammed CNN for a “fake news” report on Trump’s alleged plan to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions with the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt.
“Do you believe that the Fake News Media is pushing hard on a story that I am going to replace A.G. Jeff Sessions with EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, who is doing a great job but is TOTALLY under siege?” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Do people really believe this stuff? So much of the media is dishonest and corrupt!”
Do you believe that the Fake News Media is pushing hard on a story that I am going to replace A.G. Jeff Sessions with EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, who is doing a great job but is TOTALLY under siege? Do people really believe this stuff? So much of the media is dishonest and corrupt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 6, 2018
The annual correspondents’ dinner usually features a stand-up comedian who roasts the president. Afterward, the president gets to perform a response routine.
This year, the dinner will honor Maggie Haberman of The New York Times, who Trump called “a Hillary flunky” who didn’t know anything about him.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer is also set to receive an award for his report last year about intelligence chiefs briefing Trump on an unverified dossier full of bombastic claims. That dossier has since turned out to be a piece of Hillary Clinton-funded opposition research compiled by a British ex-spy who had an admitted bias against Trump and used second-hand sources with ties to the Kremlin. The firm that paid the spy, Fusion GPS, received money from Russia while he performed his work.
Media coverage of Trump remains overwhelmingly negative 14 months into his presidency. During his first 60 days in office, media reports on Trump were three times more negative than Barack Obama and twice as negative as coverage of presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, according to the Pew Research Center.
The negative coverage continued throughout 2017 and does not appear to have subsided. A survey of media reports by the Media Research Center showed that news coverage on ABC, CBS, and NBC was more than 90 percent negative in September, October, and November last year.
Similar to Trump, the majority of Americans are seeing through the media’s bias. A March 26 Rasmussen poll found that 52 percent of likely U.S. voters thought that reporters who write or talk about Trump are trying to block his agenda.