President Donald Trump said on Saturday he would not attend the White House Correspondent's Association Dinner, an annual parade of celebrities, journalists and politicians that in recent years has drawn fire for being too opulent and self-indulgent.
Amid tensions between the White House and the national media about whether reporters are covering the president objectively, Trump said in a tweet that he would not attend the function—derisively referred to as "Nerd Prom"—on April 29.
In recent days, a debate has erupted over whether the WHCA should altogether cancel its event, widely regarded as elbow-rubbing between Hollywood, media and political elites.
On Friday, the acrimonious relationship between Trump and the media reached a crescendo when the White House press office selectively chose certain outlets for an informal on-the-record briefing, yet barred others—including CNN, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
The president's decision to skip the WHCA dinner arrives at a time when even journalists have questioned whether the event has become too insular and self-congratulatory. Each year, reporters co-mingle with celebrities in a display of celebrity-soaked pageantry, featuring lots of sponsored parties and related events.
However, some media critics say the dinner raises questions about whether beat reporters should rub shoulders with the politicians they cover frequently, or allow themselves to be too closely associated with Hollywood.
In a statement earlier this month, the WHCA said the dinner would "celebrate the First Amendment and the role an independent press plays in a healthy republic," among other things.
However, the association added that it would continue to "pursue its core mission of advocating for journalists' ability to ask questions of government officials, push for transparency from the presidency, and help Americans hold the powerful to account. This is a responsibility that we have taken seriously for more than 100 years and will continue to uphold," WHCA president Jeff Mason added.