- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 25, 2017

President Trump announced Saturday that he would not be attending the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in April, punctuating his combative relationship with the news media.

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

The annual dinner is a light-hearted affair that traditionally featuring comedians and the president giving roast-style speeches.

But Mr. Trump has been battling the press throughout the presidential campaign and has had repeated run-ins with reporters since taking office. He’s railed against what he calls “fake news” and recently denounced the news media as “enemies of the American people.”

The Washington Press corps protested Friday when several major news outlets, including The New York Times and CNN, were barred from an off-camera press gaggle with White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

The White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) said the dinner would go on as planned April 29.

“The WHCA takes note of President Donald Trump’s announcement on Twitter that he does not plan to attend the dinner, which has been and will continue to be a celebration of the First Amendment and the important role played by an independent news media in a healthy republic,” WHCA President Jeff Mason said in a statement.

“We look forward to shining a spotlight at the dinner on some of the best political journalism of the past year and recognizing the promising students who represent the next generation of our profession,” he said.

Before Mr. Trump pulled out, rumors swirled in Washington that some news organizations planned boycott the dinner.

The dinner is usually attended by a who’s who of the Washington political class and Hollywood celebrities. The president always attends.

Mr. Trump has often been the butt of jokes at the dinner and has appeared displeased with that role.

In 2011, when Mr. Trump was mulling a White House run, he was lampooned by President Obama and comedian Seth Meyers. Mr. Trump sat stone-faced as the audience around him erupted in laughter.

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