This year's White House Correspondents Association dinner, once an evening of sharp-edged political humor and celebrities, took place Saturday without a comedian, without the president or anyone from the White House, and without the tension of past events. George Washington and every president since has felt mistreated by the press, historian Ron Chernow said as he addressed the crowd, per CNN, but Washington "never generalized that into a vendetta against the institution." President Trump's characterization of the news media as "an enemy of the people" was a theme; the journalists at the dinner, Chernow said, are on "Team USA, not members of enemy camps." He urged journalists to focus on facts, even when under attack. On a night of speeches:
- Trump spoke at a rally in Green Bay, Wis., that he scheduled for the same time as the dinner, telling the crowd that's where he wanted to be. "Is there any place that's more fun than a Trump rally?" he asked, per WITI.
- Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary, joined the president's counter-programming for the first time. He had told administration aides to skip the dinner as well this year. She was roasted at the last dinner by comedian Michelle Wolfe in a bit that brought backlash. "Last year this night I was at a slightly different event, not the best welcome," she told the crowd, per the Hill. "So this is an amazing honor."
- Olivier Knox, president of the correspondents association, said this dinner was a reset. He called on Americans to support local news media and emphasized First Amendment values and journalism, per CNN. The event isn't the president's dinner, he said, per NPR: "It is ours. And it should stay ours."
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