Trump Skips Nerd Prom, Attacks The Press In Speech To Supporters

Instead of attending the White House Correspondents Association Dinner, Donald Trump spent his Saturday attacking the press and the First Amendment.


For the first time since President Reagan skipped the event in 1981 due in large part to the fact that it took place a month after he had been shot, the White House Correspondents Association dinner went on last night without the President, who instead spent the night at a campaign-style rally in Pennsylvania:

The White House Correspondents’ Association punched back this weekend against an administration that has denigrated it, attempted to discredit it and, ultimately, snubbed it by becoming the first administration in decades to skip out on the annual bread-breaking between the White House and the reporters who cover the presidency.

“We cannot ignore the rhetoric that has been employed by the president about who we are and what we do,” association president Jeff Mason told a ballroom of journalists attending the correspondents’ dinner on Saturday night. “We are not fake news. We are not failing news organizations. And we are not the enemy of the American people.”

At the last line, he received a standing ovation.

President Trump’s relationship with the press has been notoriously tempestuous. He lambasted the media at his campaign rallies, calling them “fake,” and “failing” and, most memorably, America’s “enemy.”

In February he announced that he would skip Washington’s premier social event, with word coming later that his staff would follow his lead in “solidarity.” And because the affair is usually a two-way roast between the president and the press, attendees were forced to focus on what has ostensibly been the purpose of the dinner all these years: to honor journalism.

“We are here to celebrate the press, not the presidency,” Mason said. Alluding to speculation that the president’s absence would dampen interest, he said, “I am happy to report for anyone who’s interested that this dinner is sold out.”

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who broke the Watergate scandal during the Nixon administration for The Washington Post, acted as senior statesmen for their profession with remarks at the podium.

Journalism should be “the best obtainable version of the truth,” Bernstein said, sharing his strategy for covering politicians: “When lying is combined with secrecy, there is a pretty good roadmap in front of you. . . . Yes, follow the money, but also follow the lies.” He sang the praises of “incremental reporting,” the tedious stories that inch a larger story forward, and said that he viewed this type of work as important, “especially now.”

Woodward added: “The press, especially the so-called mainstream media, comes under regular attack. Mr. President, the media is not fake news. Let’s take that off the table as we proceed.”

Hasan Minhaj, the “Daily Show” correspondent who had been tapped as the evening’s comedic entertainment, joked that he had gotten the job in this sensitive year because, he said, “no one wanted to do this, so, of course, it landed in the hands of an immigrant.”

After a sharp-tongued set that poked fun at everyone from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow to Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, Minhaj turned serious.

“This has been one of the strangest events I’ve ever done in my life,” he said. He noted that he had been asked not to roast the president in absentia, but felt it was his duty to say how he really felt.

“We’re 100 days in, 1,030 days to go,” he told the audience, saying that he was rooting for their continued coverage of the Trump administration. “You guys are running the marathon, and I’m at the half-mile mark, giving you tape for your nipples.”

In addition to the fact that the President wasn’t in attendance the tradition Correspondent’s Dinner also faced competition from a far less serious event thrown by comedienne Samantha Bee, the former Daily Show correspondent who now hosts her own politically-oriented comedy show on TBS, that drew a sizeable crowd of its own, including several prominent journalists from TBS’s sister network CNN such as Jake Tapper. As a result, the tone of the main dinner was significantly different from what it had been in the past. Gone was much of the glitz and glamor of what had come to be called “Nerd Prom” during the Obama Administration due in no small part to the competition between media companies to invite Hollywood stars, typically minor ones and often “stars” of reality shows and other such things. In its place from what I did observe in the small amount of coverage I watched of last night’s dueling events was a more subdued event with less glitz and glamor and more focus on the press itself and the job of journalism, which is, of course, what the event is supposed to be about in the first place. As noted, there was entertainment of a sort in the form of one of the minor stars of the post-Jon Stewart Daily Show but, from what I saw of his routine, most of that comedy came across as rather dull and didn’t have the same bite as performances in the past. In no small part, of course, that was due to the fact that the President wasn’t in the room and we didn’t get a rebuttal from the President himself as has been traditional in the past.

To some degree, the fact that the Correspondent’s Dinner became more subdued this year is probably a good thing. As I wrote two years ago, the entire event had become something of an absurd spectacle, a blending of journalism, politics, and celebrity that managed to seem both pathetic and inappropriate at the same time. Pathetic in the sense that the idea of news organizations falling all over themselves to compete over who got the biggest celebrity to sit at one of their tables was, in the end, really quite silly to watch unfold. Kind of like the high school kid struggling to ask someone to the prom who was clearly out of their league. At the same time, the annual dinner became somewhat inappropriate in the way that it seemed to promote a more cozy relationship between politicians and the journalists who ought to be covering them with a critical eye, it was as if Woodward and Bernstein were covering Nixon by day and smoking cigars and drinking whiskey with him at night. If that part of the White House Correspondents Association Dinner comes to an end during the Trump Era, it will be a good thing both for our political culture and for the press as an institution.

While the press was celebrating itself in New York last night, the sitting President was attacking the press in Pennsylvania:

HARRISBURG, Pa. — President Trump came to a farm expo center here on Saturday to celebrate his first 100 days in office by bathing in the support of his bedrock supporters, reprising the populist themes of his campaign and savaging a familiar foe: the news media.

In a rally timed to coincide with an annual dinner of the White House press corps in Washington, which he declined to attend, Mr. Trump laced into what he referred to as “the failing New York Times,” as well as CNN and MSNBC, which he accused of incompetence and dishonesty.

“Their priorities are not my priorities, and not your priorities,” Mr. Trump said to a sea of supporters, many in familiar red “Make America Great Again” caps. “If the media’s job is to be honest and tell the truth, the media deserves a very, very big fat failing grade,” he said, adding that they were “very dishonest people.”

Mr. Trump reveled in his decision to skip the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, describing a scene in which Hollywood stars and reporters consoled themselves in a Washington hotel ballroom, while he mixed with a better class of people in the American heartland.

The crowd responded with a chorus of boos and chants of “CNN sucks,” some turning to jeer reporters. Mr. Trump was interrupted several times by protesters, who were escorted out of the arena by the police, under a rain of catcalls and shouts that recalled the most bitter days of the campaign.

Mr. Trump saved some of his most colorful vitriol for The Times, lampooning its sale of its headquarters near Times Square — a “cathedral to journalism” — to move into a “very ugly office building in a very crummy location.” The new Times Tower, designed by the architect Renzo Piano, sits across the street from the Port Authority bus terminal on the West Side of Manhattan.

“They covered it so badly,” he said of the presidential campaign, “that they felt they were forced to apologize because their predictions were so bad.” The Times did not apologize for its election coverage.

The president’s attack on the news media started earlier in the day, when he said on Twitter that the “mainstream (FAKE) media refuses to state our long list of achievements, including 28 legislative signings, strong borders & great optimism!”

The split-screen image that followed — journalists dining in black tie at what is normally one of the most fashionable events on the capital’s social calendar while Mr. Trump spoke to the crowd at the farm show center and, before that, toured a factory that makes landscaping and gardening tools — clearly delighted the White House.

Still, Mr. Trump’s thumb in the eye to the reveling press corps felt a bit manufactured. He spent much of the past week giving interviews to the same reporters he was to snub on Saturday night, including Jeff Mason of Reuters, who serves as president of the Correspondents’ Association.

These attacks on the press are nothing new for Trump, of course. They were a common part of his rhetoric during his campaign for President, and it was often the case that his rallies would turn into nothing more than rants by him against the media which were wildly cheered by a crowd that would then turn their ire toward the reporters giving him the media coverage he so obviously craved. As I noted at one point Trump displayed a contempt for the press that was unique for a candidate for high office and which included actions such as sometimes randomly blocking leading media companies such as The Washington Post and newspapers such as the Des Moines Register from receiving press credentials to cover his events. On other occasions, he openly talked about expanding libel laws to allow more lawsuits against media organizations and other steps that were nothing less than open attacks on the First Amendment. Just today, as a matter of fact, Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus admitted that the Administration has “looked at” ways to attack the press legally, even if it means a Constitutional Amendment:

When Trump was a candidate for President, his attacks and open contempt for a free press and the First Amendment was deplorable. Now that he’s continuing this line of argument while serving as President, and even possibly openly contemplating using legislative and other means to attack the press now that he’s in power is alarming to say the very least.

FILED UNDER: Open Forum, Policing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Mikey says:

    Lies and attacks on press freedom in an arena with rows of empty seats and racist skinheads in attendance. Doesn’t get much more Trump than that.

    And of course today he’s playing golf.

  2. CSK says:

    The irony is that Trump would curl up in ecstasy if the Times were to write a kindly word about him.

  3. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Trump Skips Nerd Prom…

    No surprise… I don’t think anyone would mistake Trump for a nerd or a wonk.

    What he is is a scared child, running back to the loving arms of the supporting mob he can manipulate, rather than risk any potential form of criticism.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    At this point who cares what Trump says? His word means nothing, he’ll flip-flop every ten seconds. There is zero chance of a constitutional amendment — Trump couldn’t even get it to a vote in Congress. Trump has no capacity to sway anyone not already signed up in the cult. His political power has already passed its peak.

    But the media, well baby, they are woke. Hasan Minhaj was great, and especially effective when calling on the media to step up, to improve their game, and to stay in this for the long haul.

    On November 9 I was very worried, say a 7 out of 10. Now I’m down to about a 5. Our goal now should be to pursue the investigation into the Trump crime family, but otherwise to focus on Congress. If we can take back the House, the Trump era will be effectively over. Obama could wield power without Congress because he had some ability to persuade, had international standing, and had a rational agenda. Trump has no ability to persuade, is an international laughingstock and doesn’t even know what his agenda is.

    Trump is just your racist grandpa who’s in the early stages of Alzheimers. No one really gives a sh!t what he’s got to say, because he doesn’t really give a sh!t what he say. He’s orally incontinent, babbling on about his glory days when he won and had the biggest inauguration ever. In fact, if you parse this actual transcript of Donald Trump at the rally, you’ll see what I mean:

    We can’t bust heads like we used to. But we have our ways. One trick is to tell stories that don’t go anywhere. Like the time I caught the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for m’shoe. So I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on ’em. “Gimme five bees for a quarter,” you’d say. Now where were we… oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. I didn’t have any white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones…

    Donald Trump has an onion his belt. That’s why he wears the super long ties, to hide it.

  5. Arnold Stang says:

    @michael reynolds:
    I love ya Mike, but I gotta call Shenanigans..

  6. Joe says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Like you, Michael, my anxiety level is going down. There are some optics we need to let go even if the press continues to serve them up. There will always be a Trump-frenzied crowd somewhere (some of the people all of the time). We aren’t out to persuade them – that would be a fools errand. It’s not even the Trump 45% in your 45%-45% discussion in a recent thread. It’s the 10% we’re talking to. It’s the 10% who will eventually see that Trump is going nowhere. He may be a traveling circus but once the tent moves on nothing is left.

    And each word that comes out of his mouth makes all of his preceding words more and more meaningless as he struts and frets his hour upon the stage. He is an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  7. CSK says:


    On the other hand, “Lord, what fools these [Trumpkins] be.”

  8. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Trump is just your racist grandpa who’s in the early stages of Alzheimers.

    I’m not going to try to “diagnose from afar” but man, Trump sounds so much like my dad did in the early stages of dementia that I really think there’s something going on in Trump’s brain.

  9. Mikey says:

    @Joe: Except he’s got nukes and they can be on the way in four minutes.

  10. Senyordave says:

    My anxiety level is down somewhat, maybe from 8 to 6.5. The biggest concern I have is the normalization of Trump. The NYT and WaPo seem to, in large part, accept that rallies like last night in Harrisburg are Trump being Trump. From what I have read so far, the rally in Harrisburg was pretty much Trump telling his supporters, you are my people, and anyone who doesn’t support me is the enemy. He sure as hell doesn’t act like he’s the president of all Americans. And as someone said earlier, he’s in control of the nukes as well as the biggest military force in the history of the world.

    I can keep hoping for alzheimers or an MI, but right now we’re stuck with him.

  11. michael reynolds says:

    @Arnold Stang:
    I deny having ever seen that video. While there are some superficial similarities, I think we can put this down to great minds thinking alike. I mean, onion belts are a common cliché…


    Oh, fine, throw down some Shakespeare and trump (heh) my Simpsons ref.


    I think at very least his daughter and Jared realize Trump isn’t firing on all cylinders – and only had a tiny four cylinder to start with. Trump is treated like a child, like you might treat a boy king during his regency – shows of respect and a lot of behind the scenes maneuvering to keep him away from the cookie jar. Lots of vain hope that he’ll ‘learn on the job.’ So far all he’s learned is to fob off work on other people so he can golf. But as Hasan Minhaj pointed out, that’s a good thing. Let the man golf. Hell, let him stay in Mara Lago. Or a Trump property in, say, Dubai.

  12. CSK says:

    In related news, Sebastian Gorka is departing the WH for an unspecified post in an unnamed federal agency.

  13. michael reynolds says:

    So we will not see Gorka around the White House? Not see Gorka there? Notsee Gorka? Nazi Gorka?

    Who will speak for the brown shirt wannabe’s of Hungary now?

  14. Stormy Dragon says:

    Personally I think the press would be better off if Presidents stopped coming permanently, although preferably because the WHCA stopped inviting them rather than because the Presidents stop coming to protect their glass jaw egos.

    The American public would be far better served by a press corp that wasn’t so chummy with the political class.

  15. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The official line seems to be that Gorka was hanging around the WH only till a position could be found for him in anti-terrorism elsewhere.

    Personally, I suspect that when Jared and Ivanka found out that not only is Gorka an anti-Semite with neo-Nazi connections, plus a correspondence school “Ph.D.,” they prevailed upon Mangolini to dump him.

  16. CSK says:

    Two more recent triumphs for Mangolini:

    1. He invited Duterte to the WH without clearing it with the State Dept.

    2. He told the South Koreans we wouldn’t pay for missile defense, and McMaster had to assure them we would.

  17. Mr. Bluster says:

    The American public would be far better served by a press corp that wasn’t so chummy with the political class.

    All these private briefings are very bad because they take the reporter into the family. But once you’ve had dinner with the Secretary of State and he’s asked your opinion about a complex problem and you’re telling them what they ought to do you feel like a statesman. You’re a close friend and you wouldn’t think of criticizing the great man and you understand there are several things the public ought not to know, better for them not to know, really better for them not to know.
    …now you know you always pay something for what you’ve got. There’s always an asset and a liability…
    But if you’re one of the tribe you find yourself at dinner parties agreeing with people that know a lot of half baked nonsense and you shake your head very wisely and pretty soon you know you’re caught up in the god damnedest crap that anybody ever got caught up in.
    I F Stone

    See ABC News White House Correspondent Tom Jerriel play tennis with his boyfriend Nixon Press Secretary Ron Ziegler. 7:41
    I F Stone’s Weekly (1973)

  18. Liberal Capitalist says:


    …my anxiety level is going down. …

    Mine’s not.

    The guy is the veritable bull in a china shop. He has no idea what he is doing, and is easily swayed.

    For instance, is the First Amendment important to us here?

    Maybe not so important to Priebus and a nerd-prom butt-hurt Trump

    Priebus: Trump Considering Amending or Abolishing 1st Amendment

    And considering how he riles up the base on the “fake news” and “lying media”, I’m sure there are plenty that would support him doing so tomorrow.

    The man is dangerous, and a threat to the Union.

  19. Tony W says:
  20. Kylopod says:


    Personally, I suspect that when Jared and Ivanka found out that not only is Gorka an anti-Semite with neo-Nazi connections, plus a correspondence school “Ph.D.,” they prevailed upon Mangolini to dump him.

    Personally I think you have too much confidence that Jared and Ivanka are principled enough to fight back against the neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic ties that Trump has had from the beginning.

  21. CSK says:


    Oh, I’m not saying either is principled. But they are concerned with optics. And…Gorka is Bannon’s man, so that would be additional incentive for the Kushners to want him out.

  22. MBunge says:

    And yet, who is the one who actually did something about the absurd monstrosity of the Nerd Prom?


  23. CSK says:

    Oh. Dear. Lord.

    Trump is now asking a question he thinks has never before been posed: Why was there a Civil War?

    He seems to think it could have been worked out, principally by his favorite president, Andrew Jackson.

    Apparently he is unaware that his favorite died in…1845.

  24. CSK says:


    Well, he boycotted it because he’s thin-skinned, if you call that doing something. But, Mike–do you really think this is some kind of big deal? An accomplishment?

  25. JohnMcC says:

    @Tony W: @michael reynolds:

    I’d prefer to have a garlic on my belt. Not that I’m superstitious or anything.

  26. JohnMcC says:

    @MBunge: You’re talking about Sam Bee? I watched it too. Wasn’t very amusing.

  27. CSK says:

    Whoopsie. Duterte has declined Trump’s invitation to the White House.

    I wonder who in the State Department called Duterte and begged him to beg off?

  28. teve tory says:


    “People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why?” Trump said during the edition of “Main Street Meets the Beltway” scheduled to air on SiriusXM.

    “People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

    goddam. Trump and his supporters are clearly our top people, in terms of intellect.

  29. CSK says:

    @teve tory:

    Yeah, I know. Next he’ll be asking why we let the Germans bomb Pearl Harbor.

  30. Pch101 says:


    Trump is now asking a question he thinks has never before been posed: Why was there a Civil War?

    To be fair to Trump, that may seem like a perfectly logical position to someone who is completely ignorant of the subject matter.

    Get ready for Bungeghazi to offer a ten-paragraph assessment of the sheer genius of Trump’s poignant assessment.

  31. Mikey says:


    He seems to think it could have been worked out, principally by his favorite president, Andrew Jackson.

    And still more…

    I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. And he was really angry that — he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, “There’s no reason for this.”

    I guess he forgot to add “FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE!”

    Good God.

  32. teve tory says:

    “Who knew health care could be so complicated?”

    “Why’d we even have a civil war?”

    After Bobby Jindal told republicans “We’ve got to stop being the party of stupid”, it’s easy to understand why he was never heard from again.

  33. Moosebreath says:


    Moreover, he has Jackson’s views wrong. See Josh Marshall’s response based on Jackson’s actions during the Nullification Crisis (Marshall has a Ph.D. in American history):

    “But the Nullification Crisis cut to the core of one of his central beliefs: the inviolability of the federal union. Today we hear ‘nationalism’ used as a byword for xenophobia, racism and militarism. Jackson had his mix of each. But Jackson thought the crisis, what Calhoun was doing could not have been more important. He actually wanted to march an army down to South Carolina and hang Calhoun. To the extent Jackson knew about the Civil War and was “really angry” about it, he was really angry at the Southern planter aristocrats who would later start the Civil War. He was ready to go to war in 1832-33 to vindicate the union and popular democracy – two concepts that to him were basically inseparable. In other words, if we take Trump’s comments on their own terms he’s completely wrong. Jackson thought the issue couldn’t be more important and he was ready to go to war and crush the nullifiers.


    Most of the key players in this period had died or passed from the political stage by 1861. But not all of them. The Jacksonians who were most vociferous in their support of Jackson’s unionism tended to be staunch unionists when the South thrust the country into Civil War in 1861, even in a number of cases where they were Southerners or from border states. The Blair family of Maryland is a noteworthy example.”

  34. Tyrell says:

    @CSK: Well, it would have been worse for the south. Jackson warned them not to pull any of that secession stuff with him or he would go down there and crush them completely into the ground: no doubt about it. And Jackson was a southerner, but a strong nationalist first. So the south waited.

  35. Pch101 says:

    In the latest episode of Our Stupid Country:

    So here are the numbers for the president’s first 100 days.

    488: The number of false or misleading claims made by the president. That’s an average of 4.9 claims a day.

    10: Number of days without a single false claim. (On six of those days, the president golfed at a Trump property.)

    4: Number of days with 20 or more false claims. (Feb. 16, Feb. 28, March 20 and April 21.) He made 19 false claims on April 29, his 100th day, though we did not include his interview with “Face the Nation,” since that aired April 30.

    That must be what 3D chess (as in dumb, deceptive and dimwitted) must look like.

  36. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    You beat me to it…flippin’ amazing that the so-called straight shooter lies this much, eh?

  37. CSK says:

    I’m flashing back to all the bizarre justifications people made for Sarah Palin’s even more bizarre peroration on Paul Revere.

  38. al-Alameda says:


    Well, it would have been worse for the south. Jackson warned them not to pull any of that secession stuff with him or he would go down there and crush them completely into the ground: no doubt about it. And Jackson was a southerner, but a strong nationalist first. So the south waited

    We came so close to avoiding a Civil War …
    all Lincoln had to do was let them go

  39. grumpy realist says:

    OT but Part III in the Fyre Festival Fiasco: Idiot producer decides to try again in 2018.

    Given that these dorks now have a $100M class-action lawsuit now hanging over their heads I suspect the probability of such occurring to be somewhere between Buckley’s Chance and never.

  40. CSK says:

    Oh. My. God.

    Trump has just released a tv ad touting his 100 day accomplishments:


  41. gVOR08 says:


    He seems to think it could have been worked out, principally by his favorite president, Andrew Jackson.

    In Trump’s part of the world allowing slavery to persist and to expand into the territories would have been a perfectly acceptable solution.

  42. Mikey says:

    @CSK: Hardly a day goes by that he doesn’t do or say something far beneath the dignity of the office of the Presidency.

  43. JohnMcC says:

    @CSK: Haven’t seen the ad but there is a story in the
    WaPo (and a chance to click on the video to see the ad) which says that the Trump people ran the ad once, pulled it and revised it. Sounds about right.

    We are so screwed.

  44. gVOR08 says:


    488: The number of false or misleading claims made by the president. That’s an average of 4.9 claims a day.

    When one reads these statements, remember that they are counting new, unique lies. He was also repeating older lies the whole time. Does he ever say anything that’s true?

  45. CSK says:


    It’s only 4:21 p.m., Eastern Time, and he’s already managed to make a fool of himself and us four times today. FOUR G*DDAMN TIMES. What will he manage to accomplish before the cocktail hour?


    Watch the ad. Have a drink. You’re going to need it.

  46. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @al-Alameda: Yes, because white lives and treasure were far too valuable to be troubled with upending the 400 year Black Holocaust perpetuated by this Country upon people who were forcibly brought here.

  47. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Moosebreath: Sam Houston was another Jacksonian; in his twilight years, he strongly opposed the secession of Texas.

  48. Jake says:
  49. al-Alameda says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    @al-Alameda: Yes, because white lives and treasure were far too valuable to be troubled with upending the 400 year Black Holocaust perpetuated by this Country upon people who were forcibly brought here.

    Yes, I know what you’re saying here.
    I was being snarky with my comment, and I know that snark sometimes does not come translate well here.

    The historical reality is that we fought the Civil Way only to have slavery replaced, for the next 100 years or so, by an oppressive system of apartheid, segregation, and Jim Crow. And Southern politicians in Congress came to dominate the American political landscape well into the 20th century. It was about 100 years until we (America) decided to win the Civil War again.