Donald Trump is skipping the White House Correspondent’s Dinner again this year. The annual event, dubbed “nerd prom” by beltway insiders, is an annual D.C. affair where White House reporters and officials hobnob with A-list celebrities. Traditionally, both a popular comedian and the president of the United States give a funny, topical speech roasting other politicians and the press.
In fact, you may remember in the wake of Donald Trump’s birther frenzy in 2011 when Seth Myers and Barack Obama both tag-teamed Trump, mercilessly mocking his birth certificate obsession.
Obama said about Trump’s leadership skills,
“But all kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example — no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ — at the steakhouse, the men’s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around. But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately, you didn’t blame Lil Jon or Meatloaf. You fired Gary Busey. And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well handled, sir. Well handled.”
Some people speculated that Trump was so humiliated by the experience that it propelled him to run for president. He definitely seems to be gun shy about returning to the dinner, because he skipped it last year as well.
This year, President Trump announced he would skip the dinner again, sending White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in his stead. Stand-up comedian Michelle Wolf, who’s headlining this year, cracked a joke about it.
Host Michelle Wolf mocks Sarah Huckabee Sanders for attending White House Correspondents' Dinner in place of Trump: “I’m just excited Sarah finally gets to go to prom” https://t.co/uEfc8z35FA
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) April 7, 2018
It’s probably for the best, Trump seems relatively incapable at the kind of self-deprecating humor an event like this demands. As speechwriters will tell you, the first step to pulling off a roast is by first turning the heat up on yourself. It’s tough to picture a seething, thin-skinned bully like Trump voluntarily submitting himself to any more humiliation than necessary in front of the press, who he’s called the “enemy of the American people” on more than one occasion.
Trump did try his hand at some self-deprecating humor at a similar, but closed press, event, the Gridiron dinner and he reportedly didn’t do too bad. It seems like it’s the public humiliation that he’s most worried about. And with all of the scandals in the news—from his cabinet secretaries’ rampant corruption to the Stormy Daniels affair—there’s more than enough fodder for jokes at his expense.