They’re sending their regrets. Celebrities and members of the press are reluctant to attend President Donald Trump’s very first White House Correspondents’ Dinner this April, an event that seeks to honor the nation’s finest political reporting, according to reports.
“It’s going to be a very different event and a very different crowd,” Elizabeth Thorp, a Washington insider and editor of female-driven digital comedy channel PYPO told The Hollywood Reporter. “All around town the buzz is, there is no buzz.”
Among those who are opting not to show face at the usually star-studded event are the casts of popular political series Scandal, Veep and House of Cards, who were a familiar presence at the White House Correspondents’ Dinners during Obama’s administration. The WHCA has also yet to lock in a comedian headliner, as has been customary in years passed (previous hosts included Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Wanda Sykes and Jay Leno.)
According to THR, James Corden is reportedly among those approached who have declined an invitation for the prestigious hosting gig. Comedian Larry Wilmore, who hosted the 2016 event, told the site that the role could potentially be a powerful opportunity to roast the president.
“You want to be respectful of the office, but, my goodness, this would be the year to absolutely take that [invite] if you were asked,” he said. “If you really are against everything that comes out of Trump’s mouth — or his fingers, if he’s tweeting — what an opportunity to let that be known in a very funny and creative way.”
Wilmore added that he had free range when hosting the dinner for Obama last year. “Nobody vetted my material. Nobody knew what Stephen [Colbert] was going to do,” he said. “I see it as a huge opportunity for a comedian to do something interesting.”
The most recent White House Correspondents’ Dinners have been celebrity-packed affairs, drawing everyone from Carrie Fisher (who brought her French bulldog to the fete) to Kim Kardashian to Helen Mirren to a very pregnant Kerry Washington.
Major media outlets have also been reluctant to commit to the date as well in light of Trump’s tendency to bash the collective media as “fake news.” According to THR, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker have pulled out of the festivities, and other outlets, such as MSNBC, may follow suit.
Trump himself is no stranger to the oft-called “nerd prom.” In 2011, the then Apprentice host was roasted by President Obama himself over his continued claims that Obama was not a U.S. citizen, a controversy known as the “birther” movement.
In a clip that went viral online shortly after that year’s Correspondents’ Dinner, Obama joked about Trump’s love for beautiful women, his tendency to care about outrageous news stories (“Did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”) and his decision-making skills on Celebrity Apprentice.
According to a first-person account by someone who sat next to the real estate mogul during the dinner, published in The Washington Post last April, Trump “was so humiliated by the experience, they say, that it triggered some deep, previously hidden yearning for revenge.”