Though at least one guest will be inconspiciuously missing from the crowd this year, members of the media are gearing up for the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner this month.
The event will take place on April 29, and “The Daily Show’s” Hasan Minhaj will host, even though the comedian’s main target will likely not be in attendance. President Donald Trump has said he will not attend. He’ll be the first commander in chief to skip the event since Ronald Reagan.
The February announcement wasn’t surprising from a president who has battled publicly with the press since he hit the campaign trail. Trump has echoed adviser Steve Bannon’s sentiments that the press is “the opposition party.”
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) Feb. 25, 2017
“I think it’s … kind of naive of us to think that we can all walk into a room for a couple of hours and pretend that some of that tension isn’t there,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Maybe Trump’s still upset over former President Barack Obama’s now infamous roasting at the 2011 White House correspondents’ dinner.
The White House Correspondents’ Association, which sponsors the annual event, has decided to move forward without a presidential guest, though there have been calls by some to boycott the event entirely.
The correspondents’ dinner has faced criticism in recent years, as it has become a celebrity-packed event where journalists cozy up with government officials they’re supposed to objectively cover.
Regardless, association president Jeff Mason said the dinner would go on. “This year, as we do every year, we will celebrate the First Amendment and the role an independent press plays in a healthy republic,” he said.
Many press organizations have said they would send donations to the White House Press Association, which advocates for media access in presidential administrations.