Trump Says He'll Skip White House Correspondents' Dinner

Ronald Reagan was the last president to skip the dinner in 1981

In a tweet Saturday evening, President Donald Trump announced that he will not be attending the 2017 White House correspondents' dinner. 

"I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!" Trump tweeted. 

The dinner is traditionally attended by the President and the first lady as well as other senior government officials and members of the press corps, according to the White House Correspondent Association.

At the annual dinner, the asscociation presents three major journalism awards to recognize distinguished reporting.

Trump has long had an adversarial relationship with news media. Since taking office, however, he has stepped up his criticism by accusing some prominent news outlets of publishing "fake news" and calling them "the enemy of the American People!"

The announcement comes a day after Trump's spat with the media sharply escalated after he slammed the media in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference. 

President Donald Trump opened his 2017 CPAC speech with more attacks on the media Friday, calling fake news "the enemy of the people" and criticizing the media's use of anonymous sources.

In the speech Friday, Trump unloaded on the news media for using anonymous sources, just hours after members of his own staff insisted on briefing reporters only on condition their names be concealed.

Later Friday, news organizations including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN and Politico were blocked from joining an informal, on-the-record White House press briefing.

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Trump had been a regular at the WHCA dinner in recent years, befitting his celebrity status as a reality TV star and beauty pageant owner. He skipped the dinner in April 2016, which came amid the presidential campaign and was the last of the dinners in which President Barack Obama was the honored guest. That didn't mean Trump wasn't the butt of jokes. At one point Obama told guests that Trump "has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world — Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan."

If he attended the dinner Trump would be a prime target of jokes, the camera showing his reaction to one-liners. In 2011, he was on hand — and appeared humiliated — as Obama lobbed joke after joke at his expense. At the time Trump was a proponent of the debunked claim that Obama wasn't born in the U.S.

In a statement following Trump's tweet, WHCA President Jeff Mason says the organization "looks forward to having its annual dinner on April 29." Noting Trump's Twitter announcement, Mason calls the dinner "a celebration of the First Amendment and the important role played by an independent news media in a healthy republic."

Trump will be the first U.S. president to skip the dinner in more than three decades, NBC News reported.

The last president to opt out of the dinner was Ronald Reagan in 1981, according to the Reagan Library. Reagan couldn't attend because he was recovering from a gunshot wound he'd sustained in a failed assassination attempt.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg, New Yorker and Vanity Fair all canceled parties they had planned to host associated with the event, according to The Hill.

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