President Donald J. Trump is skipping this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. He broke the news himself on Twitter late Saturday afternoon.
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
The announcement comes following another week of tension between President Trump and the press that hit another low on Friday when arrangements for the daily briefing were changed. As reported by Politico, up to this point, daily briefings have been given on camera and broadcast live on major cable networks. Friday, however, Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer selected specific individuals for a private briefing. Those in the meeting in Spicer’s office included reporters from Hearst Newspapers, CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, One America News Network, The Wall Street Journal, McClatchy, Breitbart, and Washington Times. Among those excluded from the meeting were reporters from BBC, CNN, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Politico. While there have been times that White House press secretaries have held “extended gaggles,” Politico voiced the view of many about Spicer’s actions on Friday.
“… the selective invitation of conservative outlets, some of whom have been more than overtly friendly to the Trump administration, is unprecedented.”
Fox News reports that the Associated Press and Time chose not to participate in the private briefing after learning of the change. They also noted that Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist, is the former executive chairman for Breitbart. Network anchor Bret Baier expressed his objection to the action, saying that all credentialed press should be welcome at briefings. Both the Wall Street Journal and McClatchy, who were in the private meeting, also condemned the move. They stated that they did not fully understand that certain media outlets were being excluded and that if they had known, they would not have taken part. They also vowed to not participate if it is repeated in the future. Trump press secretary Sean Spicer defended actions taken on Friday by saying that since a pool was present at the briefing, “everyone was represented.”
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus take the stage for a conversation during the Conservative Political Action Conference, which is an annual gathering of Republican and right-leaning politicians, commentators and their supporters. For more ???? CNN.it/politicsinsta ????Alex Wong/Getty Images #cpac #cpac2017 #stevebannon #reincepriebus #whitehouse #news #politics
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In response to Friday’s events, the White House Correspondents Association, who host the annual dinner that Trump has chosen not to attend, posted this on their website.
“FEBRUARY 24, 2017 STATEMENT
Subject: Today’s gaggle
The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today’s gaggle is being handled by the White House. We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not. The board will be discussing this further with White House staff.
-Jeff Mason, WHCA President”
Following President Trump’s announcement about the dinner, the WHCA posted this to their site.
“FEBRUARY 25, 2017 STATEMENT
Subject: WHCA statement on the 2017 White House Correspondents’ dinner
The White House Correspondents’ Association looks forward to having its annual dinner on April 29. The WHCA takes note of President Donald Trump’s announcement on Twitter that he does not plan to attend the dinner, which has been and will continue to be a celebration of the First Amendment and the important role played by an independent news media in a healthy republic. We look forward to shining a spotlight at the dinner on some of the best political journalism of the past year and recognizing the promising students who represent the next generation of our profession.
-Jeff Mason, WHCA president”
President Donald Trump speaks at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, D.C., on Feb. 24. Trump’s speech quickly turned into a media-bashing session as he took aim at "fake news”—which he called “the enemy of the people”—and anonymous sources. Photograph by @markpetersonpixs—@reduxpictures for @time. Follow along at @timelightbox. #cpac #trump
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Support for this year’s event had been waning for a few weeks before Trump made his announcement via Twitter. Bloomberg, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair announced that they would not be hosting parties related to the dinner this year. CNN is said to be considering not attending the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and The Guardian will not attend.
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]