The guest list for the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner on Saturday will look a lot like it did in 2017: Neither President Trump nor those who work for him plan to attend. Just four days before reporters and their guests were to gather at the event to celebrate journalism, the White House said Tuesday that administration officials are going to stay away, the AP reports. Trump himself had previously said he wouldn't attend. But many White House staffers and other administration officials, including some who attended in 2018, had accepted invitations to be there as guests of various news organizations. Sources tell CNN Trump personally decided to "order" officials not to attend. In a statement responding to the boycott decision, Olivier Knox, the correspondent association's president, said: "We're looking forward to an enjoyable evening of celebrating the First Amendment and great journalists past, present and future."
Tuesday's announcement came hours after Trump, who has had a fraught relationship with the news media, renewed his Twitter attacks on news organizations and personalities. But in a nod to his appeal for the visuals of journalism over printed words about him, the president later appeared in the Oval Office for a private session with prize-winning photojournalists honored by the White House News Photographers Association. Trump, who is skipping the dinner for the third consecutive year, earlier this month labeled the event "boring" and "negative." Instead, he's holding a campaign rally Saturday night in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Presidents and first ladies have traditionally attended the dinner, which serves as a celebration of the First Amendment as well as a fundraiser for college scholarships. A number of reporting awards are given out as well. (Trump had originally suggested he might attend this year's dinner after organizers overhauled the program to replace the customary comedian, who roasts any number of attendees, with a speaker.)