Comedian Hasan Minhaj digs into U.S. President Donald Trump during the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, which takes place without Trump himself. WHCA President Jeff Mason tells journalists “we are not fake news.”
WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (APRIL 30, 2017) (RESTRICTED POOL) – The White House press corps gathered on Saturday (April 29) at the Washington Hilton hotel for its annual black-tie dinner, a toned-down affair this year after Donald Trump snubbed the event, becoming the first incumbent U.S. president to bow out in 36 years.
Without Trump, who scheduled a rally instead to mark his 100th day in office, the usually celebrity-filled soiree hosted by the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) took a more sober turn, even as it pulled in top journalists and Washington insiders.
Most of Trump’s administration also skipped the event in solidarity with the president, who has repeatedly accused the press of mistreatment.
WHCA President Jeff Mason defended press freedom even as he acknowledged this year’s dinner had a different feel, saying attempts to undermine the media were dangerous for democracy.
“We are not fake news, we are not failing news organizations and we are not the enemy of the American people,” said Mason, a Reuters correspondent.
Instead of the typical roasts – presidents of both parties have delivered their own zingers for years – the humour fell to headline comedian Hasan Minhaj of “The Daily Show.”
“I am truly honoured to be here, even though all, all of Hollywood pulled out now that King Joffrey is president ,” Minhaj, said, referencing a character from the HBO series “Game of Thrones”
In an interview with Reuters this week, Trump said he decided against attending as president because he felt he had been treated unfairly by the media, adding: “I would come next year, absolutely.”