It was President Trump’s revenge on the nerds.
The president spoke directly to his fans at a rally 2¹/₂ hours from Washington, DC, on Saturday — at the same time as the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner he spurned.
Minutes into his address, he taunted the press, saying, “a large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our nation’s capital right now.”
Instead of noshing on hors d’oeuvres with media elites while a comedian mocked him, Trump dragged reporters away from their black-tie gala to cover his address in Harrisburg, Pa which marked his 100th day in office.
“I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from the Washington swamp spending my evening with all of you and with a much larger crowd and much better people,” he added.
Trump touted his accomplishments of his first 100 days while slamming reporters as “incompetent, dishonest people.” He said the press should also be judged for their performance in the past 100 days.
“If the media’s job is to be honest and tell the truth, then I think we would all agree the media deserves a very, very big fat failing grade,” he said.
The president decided in February to skip the swanky correspondents’ affair — the first commander-in-chief to do so since Ronald Reagan, who was at Camp David in 1981 recuperating from a bullet wound. Still, Reagan delivered his remarks by phone, joking, “If I could give you just one little bit of advice, when somebody tells you to get in a car quick, do it.”
Holding a rally instead of hobnobbing with journalists also sent a message to reporters that he does not need them, politicos said.
“He doesn’t respect the press, and they think he’s a buffoon and a charlatan,” said Democratic political consultant Dan Gerstein. “There’s a high level of mutual contempt.”
Trump silently fumed when then-President Barack Obama mocked his leadership skills and skewered his political future from the dinner’s podium in 2011.
“Say what you will about Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House,” Obama said behind an illustration of a White House transformed with gold columns, additional stories and a neon sign that read the “Trump White House.”
Trump demanded comedians refrain from joking about the size of his bank account at a Comedy Central roast aired in March 2011. And he was heckled at the high-powered Alfred E. Smith dinner in Manhattan in October after making a series of poorly received jokes about Hillary Clinton.
After Trump nixed his correspondents’ dinner invite, his staff then boycotted the fete in solidarity. Trump reportedly does not like the choice of emcee, “Daily Show” comedian Hasan Minhaj. Organizers asked Minhaj to not make fun of Trump, but that did not sway the president, Page Six reported Friday.
At the rally Trump said he would consider going to the dinner next year, to “make it more exciting for them.” But it depends on conditions.
“If they want him to go they’ll have to get the right comedian next year,” said former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg.