US President Donald Trump has announced that he would not attend the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) annual dinner coming April.
“I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening,” he announced on Twitter on Saturday.
The announcement comes amid the tense relationship that Trump and the media shares. He has been criticizing the news media and has termed the organisation critical of him as “fake news.”
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) February 25, 2017
The annual dinner is a fundraiser for college scholarships and a venue for reporting awards which mixes politicians, journalists and celebrities and is typically attended by the president and first lady.
It was held for the first time in Washington DC in 1920 and this year's dinner has been scheduled for April 29.
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.
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."
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 said: "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."
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!"
Yesterday, several major news outlets including The New York Times, CNN and BBC were barred from attending an off-camera White House briefing, an unprecedented move that escalated tensions in the already fraught relationship between the Trump administration and the media.