Remembering Donald Trump’s traumatic experience at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner

Barack Obama and Seth Meyers overtly scoffed at the idea of Mr Trump running for President and mocked his 'fox'-like mane of hair, his apparent penchant for conspiracy theories and his reality TV show 

Maya Oppenheim
Sunday 26 February 2017 13:46
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Remembering when Obama destroyed Trump at the 2011 White House correspondents dinner

Donald Trump’s relationship with the media has gone from bad to worse in recent days. From banning a number of news organisations from a press briefing to declaring the media the “enemy of the people”, it would be fair to say his barbed attacks on the press have reached new heights.

But this arguably reached its zenith after the President broke decades of tradition and announced he was not attending the White House Correspondents Dinner. Announcing the news in a curt but cordial tweet on Saturday, the billionaire property developer said: “Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!”

The last President not to attend the dinner, which has been dubbed the political establishment’s equivalent of the Oscars, was Ronald Reagan back in 1981 when he was at Camp David recovering from an attempt on his life.

Mr Trump’s reasoning for not attending one of Washington’s biggest social events, which is often referred to as "NerdProm”, is of course very different and may have something to do with a traumatic experience he had at the event back in 2011. In fact, the fateful night has been described as the moment where Mr Trump decided to swap reality TV for politics and become President.

During the event, Mr Trump took a momentous ribbing from Barack Obama and Seth Meyers. The President and comedian openly scoffed at the notion of Mr Trump inside the corridors of the White House.

While they ridiculed Mr Trump for his “fox”-like mane of hair, his apparent penchant for conspiracy theories and his reality TV show The Apprentice, Mr Trump could be seen in the audience looking less than pleased. Clearly unable to see the funny side, Mr Trump was unable to stop fiercley glaring at the stage. He is reported to have made a speedy exit after the traumatic dinner wound to a close.

During the dinner, Mr Obama joked: ”No one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald”.

“And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”

The event took place just days after Mr Obama released his long-form birth certificate - a document Mr Trump then claimed did not exist.

“Say what you will about Mr Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House. Let’s see what we’ve got up there,” Mr Obama quipped, prompting great laughter from the crowd.

Meyers also joined in on the ribbing: “Donald Trump has been saying he’ll run for president as a Republican, which is surprising as I just assumed he was running as a joke".

While it is tradition for a comedian to roast the president during the dinner, Mr Trump, of course, was not president at this time. The President was also the butt of many a jibe at the 2016 dinner.

The decision not to attend this year's dinner might also have something to do with concern about finding an act to headline the event after the biggest names associated with Mr Trump's inauguration were those who publicly snubbed the event.

But Mr Trump is not the only person who has said they will be sitting out of this year’s event. Vanity Fair and the New Yorker recently announced they would not attend the event this year, while CNN and MSNBC have also said they are contemplating giving it a miss.

Despite Mr Trump’s decision to drop out, the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) has said they will go ahead as normal.

“The White House Correspondents Association looks forward to having its annual dinner on April 29,” Jeff Mason, WHCA president, said in a statement.

“The WHCA takes note of President Donald Trump’s announcement on Twitter that he does not plan to attend the dinner, which has been and will continue to be a celebration of the First Amendment and the important role played by an independent news media in a healthy republic.

“We look forward to shining a spotlight at the dinner on some of the best political journalism of the past year and recognising the promising students who represent the next generation of our profession.”

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