If Washington journalists thought this was the year they’d get to hobnob with Washington bigwigs, think again. President Trump, who despises much of the White House press corps — I’m sure he thinks some are very fine people — is trying to drop golfball-sized hail on their dinner. As usual, Trump won’t be attending. But now he’s ordering administration officials to also bail on the dinner that provides journalism scholarships.
Washington’s “Nerd Prom,” as it has horribly been dubbed, is scheduled for this Saturday night. Politico reported that the news was delivered Tuesday morning to agency chiefs by White House Cabinet Sec. Bill McKinley. (RELATED: Trump To Hold Rally In Wisconsin Instead Of Going To The WHCD)
SiriusXM’s Olivier Knox, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, appeared to let the news roll off his back. “We’re looking forward to an enjoyable evening of celebrating the First Amendment and great journalists past, present, and future,” he said in a statement.
Bill Press, a lefty radio host and member of the White House Correspondents’ Association, isn’t too bothered by Trump’s majestic demand. He told me by email, “Even for Donald Trump, it’s unbelievably petty. But I don’t give a damn – it just means more free booze for me!”
This Town dwellers like publicist Kurt Bardella essentially says good riddens — why would White House scribes want to party with people who lie to them?
“At this point, I don’t know why any WH official would want to attend an event hosted by what their boss describes as the ‘enemy of the people,’ Bardella wrote when asked for comment. “On the flip-side, I don’t know why any WH reporter would want to break bread with people who routinely and flagrantly lie to them. The irony is we know from Trump’s own tweets that he is desperate for positive press from the CNNs and MSNBCs of the world. He watches them obsessively. He is like a child who hasn’t gotten his way and is taking his ball and going home.”
Wait — does this mean Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who told Robert Mueller‘s team that she had a “slip of the tongue” when she spoke about talking to FBI agents about ex-FBI Director James Comey, won’t be allowed to attend a dinner where a comedian knocked her looks? To be fair, it would be pretty tense for Sanders to be in the same American Urban Radio‘s White House correspondent April Ryan, who recently called for Sanders’ ouster and decapitation. (RELATED: After Big, Bad, Wolf Flop, WHCD Scraps Comedian For 2019)
“I’m not going either,” said a well-known face in Washington. “I don’t know anyone who is.” The person attended a pre-gathering to the dinner in years past, which she or he described as “hellish.”
Strangely, the New York Times has something in common with Trump. They’ve consistently boycotted the dinner, indicating that cozying up to Washington power brokers is not something they’re willing to do in public.
“Well, speaking as someone who works for a news organization that doesn’t go to the dinner either, I can say that it’s no big deal,” reasoned Mark Leibovich, chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine. “I’m guessing the WH people aren’t all that broken up about this. Nor should they be.”
That Trump isn’t attending is one thing. But the idea that he is mandating others not to go is troubling. Is Trump taking dictator advice from Garden Party extraordinaire Tammy Haddad, who lords invitations over people’s heads and ultimately decides which people have sucked up enough to attend her annual party?
“I don’t know why they would need to be told not to go,” said Washington Examiner commentary writer Eddie Scarry. “Is there anyone in the White House eager to see a bunch of journalists rub up against each other? You can watch Brian Stelter’s panel anytime for that.”
The party is a lot of standing around and people watching with lots of whispers of “Who’s that?” and “Wow, she looks familiar.” It’s lots of famous for Washington types — Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Madeleine Albright, Arianna Huffington — mixed in with actual Hollywood celebs like Sean Penn, George Clooney, Kim Kardashian, Psy (Gangnam-style dancer), Kendall Jenner, Rosario Dawson, Gabourey Sidibe (who isn’t so “precious” in real life and was rude to several Washington reporters at the St. Regis), Aaron Eckart, Kerry Washington and Scarlett Johansson. When Sidibe attended the dinner in 2010, Hollywood gossip Perez Hilton headlined his post, “Is Gabourey Sidibe a bitch?” D-listers like Chelsea Handler have also been WHCD dinner guests.
In 2011, Trump attended the dinner with his wife, Melania. Then-President Obama turned his speech into a momentary roast on The Donald. Trump was a vocal birther. He had it coming.
“Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald,” Obama said in his bit. “And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter — like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”
Obama then turned the knife.
“But all kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience,” he said. “For example — no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ — at the steakhouse, the men’s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around. But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately, you didn’t blame Lil Jon or Meatloaf. You fired Gary Busey. And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well handled, sir. Well handled.”
The look on Trump’s face, at least the one portrayed on C-SPAN, was gruesome. He, however, insists he had a great time and any reports to the contrary are just not true (or fake news, if you will).
Trump has always made a point of not attending Washington’s ridiculous answer to the Oscars since he has been in the White House.
“The correspondents’ dinner is too negative,” Trump said in 2017. “I like positive things, okay?”