Trump skips White House correspondents dinner again

Trump skips White House correspondents dinner again

Washington, AFP: President Donald Trump swapped one Washington for another, pointedly opting to connect with American "deplorables" in a Michigan town rather than exchange barbs at the "phony" White House correspondents dinner.

The US leader attended a campaign-style rally in Washington Township, north of Detroit, to tout what his team hails as an economic revival on the same evening that the White House press corps hosts its annual dinner.

"By the way, is this better than that phony Washington White House correspondents dinner?" an animated Trump asked the cheering crowd.

"I could be up there tonight smiling like I love when they are hitting you shot after shot," he said.

"If you don't smile they will say he was terrible. He couldn't take it. If you do smile, they will say what was he smiling about." Trump, who has frequently attacked the media and its coverage of him since his days as a presidential candidate, snubbed the press dinner for a second consecutive year since taking office.

"Why would I want to be stuck in a room with a bunch of fake news liberals who hate me?" Trump had said in a fundraising email this week authorized by the Republican National Committee.

During his speech Trump fired up the crowd by taking about everything from border control and trade to alleged Russian collusion and the Korean peninsula — a topic that prompted chants of "Nobel! Nobel!"

US reporters are frequent targets of Trump's ire. He routinely tweets about the "fake news" or the "dishonest media," especially after he sees news reports he believes are unfavorable to him and his administration.

"Trump's absence is part of a bigger pattern," historian Julian Zelizer wrote on The Atlantic's website about the president's plan to skip the dinner.

"Not only has the president been extremely hostile to the press, questioning their legitimacy and vilifying them as enemies of the state, but he has cut off access to almost everyone outside the Fox News-Breitbart orbit," Zelizer wrote, referring to outlets that cover Trump favorably.

Unlike in years past, there were no A-list Hollywood celebrities at the dinner. Notable guests this year included porn star Stormy Daniel's lawyer, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, and ex-reality show star and White House employee Omarosa Manigault Newman.

"Like a porn star says when she's about to have sex with a Trump, let's get this over with," the event's entertainment host, Michelle Wolf, said as she began her presentation.

The comedian then unleashed a volley of often vulgar jokes than included nasty personal putdowns.

She was especially hard on women in Trump's sphere: Wolf compared the president's daughter Ivanka to a diaper pail — shiny on the outside and full of faeces — and said that adviser Kellyanne Conway has "the perfect last name" because "all she does is lie." Wolf's description of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was so nasty that the crowd audibly groaned.

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