White House staff will be skipping the Correspondents’ Dinner out of “solidarity” with President Donald Trump.
White House Correspondents’ Association president Jeff Mason announced the news in a letter to the organization on Tuesday, saying that the WHCA board “regrets” the decision by the staffers.
“We have worked hard to build a constructive relationship with the Trump White House and believe strongly that this goal is possible even with the natural tension between the press and administrations that is a hallmark of a healthy republic,” Mason wrote. “We made clear in our meeting tonight that President Trump, Vice President Pence, and White House staff continue to be welcome to join us at this dinner.”
Trump announced via his Twitter account in February that he would not be attending the dinner, which will take place on April 29. “I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year,” he wrote. “Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!”
“Only the White House can speak to the signal it wants to send with this decision,” Mason wrote in the letter. “But our signal is clear: We will celebrate the First Amendment on April 29 and look forward to acknowledging the important work of our terrific members and awarding scholarships to students who represent the next generation of our profession.”
This is just the latest setback for the annual event, which honors journalists covering the presidency and the White House. The dinner typically sees a comedian roast the president before the president in turn delivers his own address. So far no entertainment has been announced.
In addition, Vanity Fair and the New Yorker have both pulled out of their events surrounding the dinner, which typically consist of a cocktail party the night before and an after-party. Time and People magazines have also canceled their pre-dinner party.
Read the full statement below:
— Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) March 28, 2017