By Todd Beamon | Saturday, 25 Feb 2017 05:21 PM
President Donald Trump said Saturday that he would not attend the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in April — amid an escalating battle with the news media — though he asked organizers to "please wish everyone well and have a great evening."
The president announced his decision on Twitter:
Jeff Mason, president of the White House Correspondents' Association, which sponsors the event, said on Twitter only that the group “takes note of President Donald Trump’s announcement on Twitter that he does not plan to attend the dinner."
He said that the dinner, to be held on April 29, "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."
The president is the guest of honor at the annual event — and he roasts the press. A high-profile comedian, who razzes the president, hosts the dinner.
First held in 1920, the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner has long been dubbed a "nerd prom" that raises scholarships and honors White House coverage.
The event brings together politicians, celebrities and corporate leaders. It is considered a highlight of the Washington social season.
Former President Barack Obama addressed the group last year — and he lampooned Trump during his speech at the 2011 dinner.
Trump's move comes as his face-off with the press grows even more intense, slamming the "fake news media" at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer also excluded CNN, The New York Times, BuzzFeed and several other large news organizations from a press gaggle he held Friday afternoon instead of his daily briefing.
In addition, several large news organizations have pulled out of the dinner, citing Trump. They include Vanity Fair, Bloomberg and The New Yorker.
Trump's refusal, however, is not unprecedented: President Richard Nixon did not attend in 1972, as did President Jimmy Carter in 1978.
President Ronald Reagan missed the dinner in 1981 after his assassination attempt by John Hinckley.
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