Saturday's announcement that U.S. President Donald Trump will not be attending the White House correspondents' annual dinner has the social networks abuzz with the suggestion that perhaps Alec Baldwin, who mimics the president on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," might stand in for the president at the event.
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Trump, who has had a particularly tense relationship with the press dating back to the presidential election campaign, tweeted on Saturday: "I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!
On hearing that Trump would be a no-show, actor Zach Braff jumped at the occasion with a tweet of his own stating simply: "Alec Baldwin, time to suit up." For her part, singer Diane Warren pleaded: ": "Oh pleeeeeez Alec Baldwin go as trump at Correspondents Dinner!!!!"
Baldwin is so identified with his Trump impersonation that earlier this month, in an article about American relations with Israel, a newspaper in the Dominican Republic, El Nacional, mistakenly ran a picture of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Baldwin instead of Trump.
According to the Washington Post, almost every American president since Calvin Coolidge, who was on hand at the event in 1924, have attended the dinner, which this year is scheduled for April 29.
In another sign of the fraught relations between the Trump administration and the White House press corps, on Friday, the White House excluded several major U.S. news organizations, including some it has criticized, from an off-camera briefing held by the White House press secretary. Reporters for CNN, The New York Times, Politico, The Los Angeles Times and BuzzFeed were not allowed into the session in the office of press secretary Sean Spicer, a decision that drew strong protests.
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter bowed out from attendance at the White House Correspondents' dinner, but did so citing exhaustion, and in 1981, President Ronald Reagan addressed the event by phone from Camp David, where he was recovering from an assassination attempt, the Post noted.
As a private citizen, Trump was in the audience at the White House Correspondents' dinner when President Barack Obama skewered the then reality show star for questioning whether Obama was born in the United States.
As recounted by the Washington Post, Obama said: “No one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald,” said Obama, who ultimately released his birth certificate. “That’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like: Did we fake the moon landing?"
With reporting by AP.