WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tonight I’m excited to join CNN for coverage and commentary around tonight’s White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner. Join me and the CNN crew starting at 8:30pm EST.
*Update: Watch a clip from Saturday night here*
Last night’s #WHCD didn’t offer the country a unifying, positive message to transcend our differences. But @MichelleIsaWolf can always redeem herself. Nobody is irredeemable! https://t.co/uYUMDVoFep pic.twitter.com/uiS6BBZgC6
— Carrie Sheffield (@carriesheffield) April 30, 2018
President Trump will skip tonight’s dinner. He avoided the event last year as well and was excoriated by former President Barack Obama at the 2011 dinner.
“The White House has informed us that the president does not plan to participate in this year’s dinner but that he will actively encourage members of the executive branch to attend and join us as we celebrate the First Amendment,” White House Correspondents’ Association President Margaret Talev said in a statement after President Trump made his decision.
I can understand why POTUS is is sitting this out. While it’s true that the First Amendment protects speech that disparages or satirizes any White House occupant, Trump has been the target of unprecedented, overwhelmingly negative press coverage, according to the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
“Six of the seven U.S. outlets in our study — CBS, CNN, NBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post — are among those he’s attacked by name,” the Harvard report said. “All six portrayed Trump’s first 100 days in highly unfavorable terms. CNN and NBC’s coverage was the most unrelenting—negative stories about Trump outpaced positive ones by 13-to-1 on the two networks. Trump’s coverage on CBS also exceeded the 90 percent mark. Trump’s coverage exceeded the 80 percent level in The New York Times (87 percent negative) and The Washington Post (83 percent negative).”
So I can understand why President Trump will be at a rally in Michigan instead of hobnobbing here with media champagne and ball gowns in the heart of the swamp. In the name of unifying the country, I do hope that over time the mainstream media will realize the need for greater ideological diversity and tolerance in how it represents conservatives. Because right now, the tilt is overwhelmingly to the Left.
Republicans can manage the press and preserve their legacy. Republican President Reagan is one of the most revered modern presidents, and as Brian Stelter at CNN points out: “The last president to miss the correspondents’ dinner was Ronald Reagan in 1981 — because he was recovering from an assassination attempt. Reagan still called in by telephone.”
Perhaps if there is a media detente in the future, POTUS will attend the dinner during his presidency. But even if he doesn’t, the broader need for a more balanced media ecosystem will continue.
To prepare for tonight and lighten the mood, check out this self-deprecating video that C-SPAN compiled of comedians poking fun at the network itself. Enjoy, and see you soon!
Photo by Tom Lohdan