How Trump's Correspondents' Dinner Attacks Devalue the First Amendment
As many already know, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is coming up this Saturday, April 27. The highly publicized event is designed to recognize the press and the First Amendment by giving awards to accomplished journalists, and also typically involves the president and the media making fun of one another. This year, just like the past two years, President Trump will not be attending the event. Trump is the first president not to attend the event since 1981 when Ronald Reagan skipped, as he was still recovering from an attempted assassination. While Reagan did not attend for obvious reasons, he still managed to make a phone call and congratulate the journalists on their awards and make a few jokes. Other than Reagan, Nixon and Carter are the only other Presidents to skip the event.
According to Trump, the dinner is “boring” and “negative,” so he plans to hold a “positive” rally instead that same night. One might wonder: why would the president skip the annual dinner that dates back to the 1920s without an excuse? Well, simply put, the president cannot stand to be in a room with people who do not agree with him. He describes the press as “the enemy of the people” and has disrespected the media on Twitter 1,339 times since his inauguration. It is clear that the president does not like to be around people who do not wholeheartedly support his agenda, as he surrounds himself with like-minded individuals, never people who disagree.
I would like to assume that the President of the United States could move past disagreements with the media, which represents the freedom of the press and part of the First Amendment, but it doesn't seem like President Trump can do so. He disrespects journalists alarmingly often, and cannot bring himself to share a meal with them for a D.C. tradition. All presidents have disagreements with the media and all presidents have felt attacked by the media. President Trump is not the only one to have tension with the press, but he is the only one to have gone so low as to call the media “the enemy of the people,” disrespect the career field, and skip the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. A president who doesn't respect the free press or the entire field of journalism is a president that doesn’t deserve the respect of the American people.
In addition to skipping the event himself, the president has ordered his entire administration to boycott the event. The whole point of the WHCD is to celebrate and acknowledge the freedom of the press as guaranteed by the First Amendment, as well as give journalists and White House aids night to get to know one another and celebrate. What is so wrong with the WHCD that the president and his entire staff will not, as of now, attend?
It seems like lately that President Trump has a lot of fears: immigration, acknowledging the scientifically proven climate change plaguing our planet, the Mueller report, women, and, undoubtedly, the media.
Honestly, the president and the media should be putting aside their differences to come together for a night to celebrate one of the most important tenets of our democracy: the First Amendment.