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black-tie affair

The White House correspondents' dinner went ahead without Trump (but he still got roasted)

The US President said he was glad he stayed away from ‘the Washington swamp’.

CNN / YouTube

DONALD TRUMP OPTED to stay away from the annual White House correspondents’ dinner, telling a rally in Pennsylvania that he was  ”thrilled” to be far from “the Washington swamp” and the “very boring” dinner.

The yearly glitzy gathering of White House reporters and Washington bigwigs is usually a lighthearted affair where comedians and presidents poke fun at themselves and each other.

This year though Trump chose not to attend, instead celebrating a “very productive” first 100 days as America’s president at a campaign-style rally.

In an hour-long speech. Trump lambasted the media and predecessor Barack Obama, boasted of his support for US industry and the military, and vaunted his foreign policy positions including on confronting North Korea.

Saying how pleased he was to have skipped the dinner,the president sneered at “fake news” CNN and the “failing” New York Times.

“They are a disgrace,” he said.

CNN / YouTube

The black-tie affair went ahead without him and was headlined by Watergate journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

“Like politicians and presidents sometimes, perhaps too frequently, we make mistakes and go too far,” Woodward said.

When that happens we should own up to it. But the effort today to get this best obtainable version of the truth is largely made in good faith. Mr. President, the media is not ‘fake news.’ Let’s take that off the table as we proceed’

“Whatever the climate, whether the media is revered or reviled, we should and must persist and I believe we will.”

C-SPAN / YouTube

The main roast of the night was delivered by The Daily Show comedian Hasan Minhaj.

“We’ve got to address the elephant that’s not in the room,” Minhaj said.

The leader of our country is not here. And that’s because he lives in Moscow. It’s a very long flight. As for the other guy, I think he’s in Pennsylvania because he can’t take a joke.

100 days

CNN / YouTube

Back in Pennsylvania, Trump presented his record so far — including the signing of many executive orders — as “very exciting and very productive,” despite what he described as the “mess” left by Obama’s administration.

“We are keeping one promise after another,” he asserted, adding that he was preparing for “the great, great battles to come and that we will win in every case.”

Trump also read a poem called The Snake, — from the lyrics of a 1968 song recorded by American soul singer Al Wilson — that reworks a fable about a maiden who saves a half-frozen serpent but who is then killed by its bite, as it stays true to its nature.

He’s read the poem previously but repeated it again last night.

“You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in!” Trump intoned, dedicating the reading to the border patrol service for “keeping America safe.”

- With reporting by © – AFP 2017

Read: Donald Trump to skip White House Correspondents’ Dinner >

Read: Mitt Romney had a cosy dinner last night with Trump, the man he labelled a fraud >

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