President Donald Trump, in a “Fox & Friends” interview, says he won’t attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner—but he’s not the first and probably won’t be the last.
“I just thought it would be better if I didn’t do the dinner. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to do it next year, but I just thought it would be better if I didn’t do it this year,” he said.
Starting in 1921, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is a yearly tradition typically attended by the president and vice president. Celebrities, high-level journalists, and other politicians also attend the dinner. The dinner is usually hosted by a well-known comedian who roasts members of the media as well as the president.
“I have great respect for the press. I have great respect for reporters and the whole profession,” Trump added of the dinner, which will be held on April 29.
Former President Ronald Reagan declined to attend the dinner in 1981, according to the Reagan Library. His reason for not attending was because he was recovering from a gunshot wound sustained during an assassination attempt.
But he provided a few remarks. “If I could give you just one little bit of advice,” Reagan said, “when somebody tells you to get in a car quick, do it.”
Trump’s reason for not attending the dinner, however, is for markedly different reasons.
His no-show might be another sign of the growing enmity between him and the legacy news media, with the New York Times, Politico, BuzzFeed, and CNN claiming they were excluded from a White House press briefing, which the White House denied.
Trump has escalated his rhetoric since he took office in January, frequently claiming and tweeting that the media—particularly CNN—are purveyors of “fake news” (CNN was described as “very fake news” during his most recent press conference).
Meanwhile, Trump’s experience at a previous White House Correspondents’ Dinner may have influenced his decision.
The president was roasted at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner by both President Barack Obama and comedian Seth Myers.
“Donald Trump has been saying he’ll run for president as a Republican, which is surprising as I just assumed he was running as a joke,” Myers said, while Obama criticized his lack of political experience. Video footage and screenshots showed Trump smiling, but he didn’t respond.
Some analysts have claimed the experience—namely the jokes made in Trump’s expense prompted him to make a serious run for president.
On “Fox & Friends,” Trump denied that he was still angry over the 2011 dinner.
“Well, I’ve taken it. You know, one of the great misconceptions—when President Obama was up … five years ago or whatever, I loved that evening. I had the greatest time,” he said during the Tuesday interview.
“I had the greatest time. Now, I can’t act like I’m thrilled because they’re telling jokes. I mean, he was telling jokes—I’m going to change the name of the White House to Trump House, and other things,” Trump added.