Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy White House press secretary, suggested Sunday that the escalating tension between President Donald Trump and the reporters who cover him prompted him not to attend the upcoming White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
“I think it’s kind of naive of us to think that we can all walk into a room for a couple of hours and pretend that some of that tension isn’t there,” Sanders told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week.”
Sanders offered this analogy to describe the tension: “You know, one of the things we say in the south if a Girl Scout egged your house, would you buy cookies from her? I think that this is a pretty similar scenario. There’s no reason for him to go in and sit and pretend like this is going to be just another Saturday night.”
Trump announced Saturday on Twitter that he will not attend the annual dinner, which doubles as a scholarship and awards dinner for journalists and a glitzy party frequented by celebrities in addition to reporters and White House staffers.
Speaking later Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” pro-Trump activist Amy Kremer agreed that there’s no particular reason for Trump to attend, since he’s regularly mocked on TV, such as on “Saturday Night Live.”
The event has long attracted criticism from some journalists, but questions about the event took on new urgency this year because of Trump’s regular attacks on individual news outlets and the press at large.
Trump often responds to stories he dislikes by labeling them “fake news”; like one of his top advisers, Steve Bannon, he has taken to calling the press “the opposition party”; and he has accused reporters of making up sources and fabricating stories, while offering no evidence for those assertions.
On Friday, the tensions escalated further when White House press secretary Sean Spicer barred several news outlets, including POLITICO, from attending a briefing in his office.