Washington, DC’s most glamorous weekend, explained.
The annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner is happening again Saturday, and it’ll be, well, something else. For the past eight years, the dinner has marked a weekend of celeb-studded parties feting President Barack Obama (and, nominally, the press). But with Donald Trump in the Oval Office, the forecast is decidedly less glamorous — starting with the main event, which is expected to strike a more serious tone this year in the absence of its guest of honor.
President Trump, who is supposed to be the star of the night, announced in February that he would not attend, breaking a longtime Washington tradition. (The last president to skip the dinner was Ronald Reagan, who was recovering from a gunshot wound to the lung.) Instead, Trump plans hold a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. By the time journalists and politicians and celebrities assemble at the Washington Hilton on Saturday, the president will be 120 miles away, celebrating his first 100 days in office with some of his most fervent supporters.
It’s not hard not to read the trip, which Trump announced just last Saturday, as an effort to counterprogram a weekend traditionally devoted to celebrating political journalists — a group with whom the president has repeatedly clashed throughout this past year. Trump often complains about his negative coverage, and once called the media the “enemy of the American people.”
Trump has an awkward history with the White House Correspondents’ Dinner that reaches back to 2011, when he was subjected to a humiliating roast by President Obama. According to one narrative (which Trump disputes), that evening was a formative moment for the hotel mogul, inflaming his political ambitions and setting him on a path that would eventually lead to him the White House.