To hear the amount of consternation coming from the cable news community you’d think that the United States was about to invade Canada. Shock waves are roiling the press over President Trump’s Twitter announcement saying that he would not be attending this year’s White House Correspondents Dinner. Could this be the end of Nerd Prom? (The Hill)
President Trump announced Saturday he will not be attending this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, which is usually attended by the president.
“I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Oh, whatever shall we do? But all sarcasm aside, how is this in any way surprising? Not only is this informal evening of jokes and insider horsetrading completely outside of the Constitutional duties of the President, but it’s really of very little import to anyone outside of the Beltway. Those of us who have been around for a while are no doubt able to recall when this event received virtually zero attention even in the national press. It’s a somewhat more recent phenomenon to see clips from the various performances filling the airwaves for a few days after each event.
There’s also been a wave of criticism in recent years over the rather gaudy and frankly inappropriate nature of this meeting. It attracts a list of high profile celebrities who wind up sitting alongside both elected officials and media figures, all yukking it up while ignoring the irony of such a cozy gathering of members of the government and those whose job is ostensibly to hold them accountable. For the most part, even many of the jokes which are told fall completely flat with the average person who doesn’t spend their days and nights obsessing over what goes on inside the Beltway.
The real twist this year of course is the fact that the presumed guest of honor has a relationship with the press which is more akin to a series of drive-by shootings (from both sides) than any sort of friendly, good-natured rivalry. Since he’s not required to be there in the first place, what possible purpose would it serve for Donald Trump to show up and address this crowd? Previous presidents (including the last one who the media was absolutely in love with) would make a series of jokes about the press, but it was done in a friendly fashion. President Trump has not been in any mood to make jokes about the press because his battle with them has been all too serious. For their part, the media has been hounding him relentlessly since he first announced his plans to run for the White House. I would fully expect the jokes to be a lot more mean spirited this year.
The dinner will likely take place anyway. In fact, Trump’s absence may reinvigorate the affair. As John reported yesterday, some larger outlets had already announced plans to cancel their fabulous parties after the show. CNN wasn’t sure if they were even going to show up at all. Now, with the target of their ire no longer being present, they can feel free to pop the champagne corks and rub elbows in their usual chummy fashion. As for the President, I suspect he’ll find something else to do.