By CATHERINE LUCEY, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump, a constant critic of what he calls "fake news," will skip the White House Correspondents' Dinner for a second year in a row.
White House Correspondents' Association president Margaret Talev said in statement Friday that 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."
Trump had said he "probably won't do it" in an interview on the "Bernie and Sid" radio show on 77 WABC Radio that was taped Thursday and aired Friday.
Saying the press is "so bad" and "so fake," Trump said: "I want to get it straightened out with the press before I do it."
Talev said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders will attend to represent the administration at the head table.
NEW: Pres. Trump will not attend this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner, WHCA says, but will "actively encourage members of the executive branch to attend."— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) April 6, 2018
Press Sec. Sarah Sanders "will represent the administration at the head table." https://t.co/w0q39QKnn6 pic.twitter.com/0nO8DiWlc0
The annual dinner, a fundraiser for college scholarships and a venue for reporting awards, mixes politicians, journalists and celebrities and is typically attended by the president and first lady. Remarks by a comedian, often roasting the president, and a humorous address by the president himself, often roasting the press and political opponents, have highlighted the event, which C-SPAN has carried live.
Trump skipped the event last year, holding a rally in Pennsylvania instead. Prior to that, Ronald Reagan was the most recent president to skip the annual dinner, as he was recovering after being shot during an assassination attempt.
If he attended, Trump would likely be a prime target of jokes, with the camera showing his reaction to one-liners. Before he entered politics, the former reality star attended the event and in 2011 was on hand — and appeared humiliated — as former President Barack Obama lobbed joke after joke at his expense.
Trump did attend the annual Gridiron Club Dinner earlier this year, delivering a speech at the annual white-tie affair featuring journalists and officials. At that event, Trump offered a series of good natured one-liners in his remarks.
Among his quips: "I was very excited to receive this invitation and ruin your evening in person. That's why I accepted."