White House staff to skip correspondents' dinner

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, March 29 (IANS) White House staff plan on skipping the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) dinner this year in "solidarity" with US President Donald Trump, media report said on Wednesday.

WHCA President Jeff Mason said the White House informed this on Tuesday and the board "regrets this decision very much", The Hill news reported.

"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 the administration that is a hallmark of a healthy republic," Mason added in a statement.

Trump in February announced he will not appear at the WHCA dinner this year, a break with past presidents, adding his absence from the event is for the best.

"That does not mean I am not going to do it next year," he said during a February 27 interview on Fox News. "But I just thought it would be better if I did not do it this year."

"Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!" Trump tweeted at the time.

Organisers for the annual dinner said the April 29 event will proceed as planned, despite Trump's absence.

The event, which is used to honour journalists covering the White House and award scholarships to aspiring reporters, typically attracts a number of celebrities as well as many from media and politics.

Trump chose to skip the dinner last year as well while campaigning for the presidency, despite many invites from media to attend.

Former President Barack Obama repeatedly mocked Trump as he sat in the audience at the dinner in 2011, which many have speculated fuelled Trump's desire to enter the political arena.

Trump and other administration officials have repeatedly sparred with the media, labelling reports as "fake news" and accusing outlets of biased coverage against them.

--IANS

sm/vm