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On Feb. 25, Trump announced he wouldn’t be attending the dinner on Twitter, but sent his best wishes.
Trump is the first president to miss a White House Correspondents’ Association dinner since Ronald Reagan, who was recuperating from an assassination attempt at Camp David during the dinner in 1981.
Before the star-studded event kicked off, Hasan Minhaj — the Daily Show correspondent and the evening’s host — told MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff the evening would “very interesting” without the president there.
Back in Washington D.C., as the dinner kicked off, Jeff Mason, president of White House Correspondents’ Association, countered what Trump had said at the rally by reminding those at the dinner they were not, in fact, fake news.
“It is our job to report on facts and to hold leaders accountable,” Mason said. “That is who we are. We are not fake news. We are not failing news organizations. And we are not the enemy of the American people.”
Journalist Bob Woodward later echoed Mason’s sentiment, saying: “Mr. President, the media is not fake news.”