A new report claims that President Donald Trump has quietly broken a long-running tradition by canceling the annual White House Christmas party for members of the press.
Fox News‘ report on Thursday did not make any mention of an official reason why Trump called off the event but remarked that the decision was not a surprise due to the president’s ongoing criticism of “fake news” and the numerous negative reports that have been published about him and his administration. The publication added that the White House has yet to issue a statement confirming the cancellation, but noted how Donald and Melania Trump did not pose for photos at last year’s media Christmas party like other presidents and first ladies had done in the past.
As noted by Fox News, the annual Christmas party for the media had been, for decades, a “significant perk” for reporters and anchors covering the White House, as well as media executives who would attend the invitation-only event. Those invited to the party would regularly dine on lavish meals and take part in picture-taking sessions with the president and first lady, which would be followed up by brief conversations in front of a Christmas tree.
Aside from the president and first lady, other White House officials would sometimes take time off from their busy schedules to chat with reporters. According to Fox News, one such example took place last year, when chief of staff John Kelly spoke with reporters for “at least” 15 minutes, to the point where the conversation resembled a “mini-press conference.”
According to Business Insider, the holiday party is meant to serve as a “peace-making” exercise for the White House and for reporters to cap off a “year of tension.” However, last year’s party was notable for CNN’s boycott of the event due to Trump’s frequent barbs against the media. Following the boycott, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders responded to the move by making the following remarks on Twitter.
“Christmas comes early! Finally, good news from @CNN.”
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) December 13, 2018
Prior to Donald Trump’s reported decision to cancel the White House Christmas party for the media, a number of incidents took place to further highlight the president’s contentious relationship with the press. This included the White House revoking the press credentials of CNN’s Jim Acosta after he refused to give up his microphone to a female intern while trying to ask Trump a question. According to the Guardian, the incident led to Trump calling Acosta a “rude, terrible person” and Sanders issuing a statement accusing the reporter of “placing his hands” on the intern. Acosta’s credentials were later restored after CNN filed a lawsuit against the White House.
Furthermore, Fox News noted that Trump had twice turned down invitations to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which had previously been attended by every U.S. president since Richard Nixon.
Although Donald Trump is apparently canceling what had been a yearly Christmas tradition for media representatives, Fox News wrote that the White House has organized a “full panoply” of holiday parties for “selected media people,” primarily those in good standing with the president, including a few of the network’s hosts.