EDITORIAL: Guess who’s not coming to dinner?
President Donald Trump will not be attending next month’s annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
That’s the gathering where political journalists recognize the best work of the year and “the promising students who represent the next generation of our profession," in the words of White House Correspondents' Association President Jeff Mason.
The so-called “Nerd Prom” also is an opportunity for journalists to poke good-natured fun at the president and for him to return the favor.
In recent years, it’s also become known for the comedic hosts — such as Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O’Brien — and the journalists’ celebrity plus-ones.
The last president not to accept an invitation to the gathering was Ronald Reagan in 1981, and that was only because he had recently been shot in an assassination attempt.
How did the intrepid D.C. journalists take Trump’s snub?
Well, have you ever planned a dinner party and felt obligated to invite your loudmouth, offensive uncle and then found out he couldn’t make it?
“Sorry to hear that! Won’t be the same without you!”
Trump tweeted his brush-off Saturday, and later the same day Mason issued a statement of his own.
Noting the president’s announcement, Mason said the dinner “has been and will continue to be a celebration of the First Amendment and the important role played by an independent news media in a healthy republic …”
Put that way, we have to wonder why the organization invited Trump in the first place.
The president has shown nothing but contempt for the truth.
He and the people he surrounds himself with fabricate one laughable, easily disprovable “alternative fact” after another.
Unflattering reports — and his fledgling, flailing administration has generated plenty — are invariably “fake news,” Trump says without a shred of evidence.
He whines about news organization using unnamed sources — sometimes the only way sources can reveal wrongdoing without fear of retribution — even while his own White House staff demands anonymity.
Lately, Trump has taken to calling journalists “the enemy of the people” — apparently oblivious, as many have noted, to the fondness history’s dictators have shown for that exact same phrase.
He trotted it out most recently last Friday during a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, adding ominously, "We're going to do something about it."
Later that day, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer barred journalists from CNN, The New York Times, Politico and the Los Angeles Times from attending a press briefing.
The New York Times noted the president’s actions came a day after CNN reported a White House official had asked the FBI to rebut a Times article that had recently detailed contacts between Trump’s associates and Russian intelligence officials.
The FBI is investigating Trump’s connections to Russia, and it did not weigh in on the CNN report. The House and Senate intelligence committees also are probing Russia's meddling in the presidential election that gave us Trump, and there are growing calls for a special prosecutor to investigate.
This is not fake news, and it’s not going away any time soon.
It’s just as well Trump is avoiding this year’s Nerd Prom — and the journalists might want to skip the comedians this year, as well.
There’s nothing remotely funny about this president or his war on the First Amendment.