February 26, 2017
WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump ratcheted up his feud with the US media, announcing he will skip the annual correspondents' dinner one day after a row erupted over White House press access.
By skipping the April 29 event Trump breaks a tradition in which the US president is the guest of honor at a light-hearted roast held by journalists and studded with celebrities.
"I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!" Trump wrote on Twitter.
The White House Correspondents Association, which has organized the annual dinner since 1921 to raise money for journalism scholarships, said it would go ahead with the event as planned.
The dinner "has been and will continue to be a celebration of the First Amendment [on freedom of the press] and the important role played by an independent news media in a healthy republic," WHCA president Jeff Mason tweeted.
Trump built his presidential campaign on criticizing the mainstream US press -- whose editorial boards overwhelmingly opposed his election -- and has intensified his rhetoric since taking office, routinely accusing the media of bias in overstating his setbacks and downplaying his accomplishments.
Trump's cancelation comes one day after the White House triggered widespread outrage by denying access to an off-camera briefing to several major US media outlets, including CNN and The New York Times.
Smaller outlets that have provided favorable coverage of the Trump administration, such as Breitbart and the One America News Network were allowed to attend the briefing by spokesman Sean Spicer.
The WHCA said it was "protesting strongly" against the decision to selectively deny media access, and would bring it up with the Republican administration.
The New York Times described the White House decision as "an unmistakable insult to democratic ideals," while CNN called it "an unacceptable development" and the Los Angeles Times warned the incident had "ratcheted up the White House's war on the free press" to a new level.
Hours earlier on Friday, speaking at the annual CPAC gathering of conservative activists and politicians, Trump slammed the mainstream US media as "the enemy of the people," and labeled the fourth estate "fake news" and the "opposition party." - AFP
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