“There’s another big gathering taking place tonight in Washington D.C.,” President Donald Trump told a crowd in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania early on Saturday night. “Did you hear about it? A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our nation’s capital right now.”
The White House Correspondents’ Dinner is the one night when the president gets to cut loose and shoot back at the reporters who take aim at him the other 364 days a year — in front of their celebrity friends, no less. Things will be a little different this time around, though. Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj will host, the red carpet and scholarship portions of the evening will continue as planned, but Trump has sent his regrets to the 2017 “Nerd Prom,” opting to hold a rally to celebrate the …accomplishments…? of his first 100 days, to excoriate the media and his onetime opponent Hillary Clinton instead.
Trump went on: “I could not be possibly more thrilled than to be a thousand miles away from [the] Washington swamp, spending my evening with you — a much much larger crowd and better people.” He’s not the only one competing with the Correspondents’ Dinner, either. Samantha Bee is hosting “Not The White House Correspondents Dinner,” set to air at the same time on Saturday.
Trump is the first president to skip the dinner since Ronald Reagan opted to watch from home in 1981, while recovering from an assassination attempt. CNN, Fox News and MSNBC all plan to air portions of the dinner, interspersed with segments of Trump’s rally, which kicked off at 7:30 p.m; interrupted C-Span coverage will begin at 9:30 p.m. EST.