April 23 (UPI) — President Donald Trump has ordered his administration to boycott the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.
White House Cabinet Secretary Bill McGinley said officials have been ordered not to attend this year’s gala fundraiser Saturday attended by the White House press corps.
Trump announced earlier this month that he would skip the dinner for the third year in a row. Instead, he will hold a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wis., on Saturday night.
“The dinner is so boring and so negative that we’re going to hold a very positive rally,” Trump said at the time.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told CNN she would be traveling to the Trump rally and would not be attending the dinner.
WHCA President Olivier Knox suggested the boycott would not stand in the way of the event’s purpose to promote the First Amendment and honor journalists.
“We’re looking forward to an enjoyable evening of celebrating the First Amendment and great journalists past, present, and future,” Knox tweeted Tuesday.
Trump has repeatedly spoken ill of journalists, referring to them as his “enemy” and the “enemy of the people,” remarks that have been denounced by free speech advocates.
He became the first president since Ronald Reagan to decline an invitation to the dinner his first year in office. However, Reagan skipped the event because he was recovering from an assassination attempt and telephoned well wishes and a few jokes.
The dinner’s tradition of having a comedian as a featured speaker to roast the president has been put on hiatus amid Trump’s attacks on the media.
The WHCA decided in November to invite historian and biographer of U.S. presidents Ron Chernow to speak at Saturday’s dinner.