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Trump toys with attending White House correspondents' dinner ... because there'll be no comedian

US president Donald Trump hasn’t gone to the event since taking office.

Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has hinted he may drop his boycott of the annual White House correspondents’ dinner because there’ll be no comedian on the programme.

“So-called comedian Michelle Wolf bombed so badly last year at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner that this year, for the first time in decades, they will have an author instead of a comedian,” he tweeted.

“Good first step in comeback of a dying evening and tradition! Maybe I will go?”

Wolf delivered a controversial star turn at the latest dinner, mercilessly – some argued cruelly – sending up White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, who was seated on the dais with her.

The day after Wolf’s searing monologue, the then president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, Margaret Talev, said the comedian’s efforts were “not in the spirit of the mission” of celebrating a free press and “honouring civility”.

And the 27 April 2019 event will break with the tradition of featuring a comedian, with the guest speech instead coming from historian and biographer Ron Chernow, who is best known for his biographies of Alexander Hamilton and two former US presidents.

Wolf responded to Trump by pointing to his decision this week to ignore evidence of involvement by US ally and de facto Saudi leader Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“I bet you’d be on my side if I’d killed a journalist,” Wolf said.

The annual gala dates back to 1921, and from 1980 until 2017, presidents from both parties had attended, except for 1981, when president Ronald Reagan was recovering from being shot.

Presidents usually give a speech filled with self-deprecating comments and jabs at the press, after a comedian has taken aim at the commander-in-chief.

While Trump has not gone to the event since taking office, he did attend as a guest in 2011, when he was subjected to a blistering roast by then-president Barack Obama, who mocked the reality TV star for peddling the conspiracy theory that the Hawaii-born leader lacked a valid US birth certificate.

© – AFP 2018

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