President Donald Trump opened his Saturday rally by addressing the elephant in the stadium.
“As you may know, there’s another big gathering taking place tonight in Washington, D.C.” he told a crowd in Philadelphia, referencing the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. “A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our nation’s capital right now.”
Trump has decided to skip the event — where he’d be a prime target — becoming the first president to decline an invitation since Ronald Reagan in 1981 when he was recovering from an assassination attempt.
“They are gathered together for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner — without the president,” he emphasized into the microphone. “I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from Washington [and] spending my evening with all of you and with a much, much larger crowd and much better people.”
He then appeared to double down on his statement that he plans to attend the dinner next year.
“The [media] are trapped at a dinner, which will be very, very boring,” he said. “But next year, maybe we’ll make it more exciting for them in Washington and show up, but there’s a good chance we’ll be showing up here too.”
Trump spent a large majority of his opening moments targeting the media, touting himself for coming up with the term “fake news.” He also took the opportunity to personally rate the media’s accomplishments during his first 100 days, delivering a failing grade.
“As you know, they are a disgrace,” he spouted. “According to a morning consult poll, more than half of Americans say the media is out of touch with everyday Americans.”
Trump’s 100-day rally served as counterprogramming against the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which kicked off its pre-activities around the same time as the rally. News stations were broadcasting Trump’s rally instead of the red-carpet festivities.
Trump, who has called journalists “dishonest” and even enemies of the American people, continued to do so on Saturday, spurring crowd chants of “CNN sucks” and chastising the media who did attend his rally.
“The Washington media is part of the problem,” he said. “Their priorities are not my priorities, and they’re not your priorities.”
He specifically spent time calling out CNN, MSNBC and the “failing” New York Times. “Pretty soon, they’ll only be on the internet,” said Trump of often-target the Times, claiming it’s “starting to look like a comic book” in size.
Saturday was his 100th day in office, which Trump marked by saying he brought “profound change” to Washington in his weekly radio address. He continued to go through his accomplishments during the rally.
“We have accomplished 100 days of action; they’ve never seen anything like this,” he proclaimed.
When one protester interrupted, Trump thanked the fire marshal for escorting the person out. He also took time to call out one supporter who held a sign reading “Blacks for Trump.”
Police have thrown out two protesters so far. “Get em outta here,” the president said. pic.twitter.com/eiPPLBy4Qr
— Jacob Rascon (@Jacobnbc) April 30, 2017
Cops are too busy taking other protesters out to handle new ones. So trump supporters are holding protesters against walls while they wait.
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) April 30, 2017
Trump began to close out his 45-minute speech by reading the lyrics of the song “The Snake” to make a point about refugees, something he has read in the past during campaign rallies. The song, written by Oscar Brown Jr. and sung by Al Wilson, tells the story of a woman who takes in a sick snake, only to have the creature kill her with a venomous bite.
“We are one people with one great American destiny,” he said. “Whether we are black, or brown, or red, or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots. And we all share the same glorious freedoms of our magnificent country.”
Trump’s 100th-day events were set in Pennsylvania, where he won 48 percent of the electoral vote. The executive orders set to be signed Saturday would be Nos. 31 and 32, marking the most any president has signed in his first 100 days since World War II.
Trump was also a target at Samantha Bee’s counterprogramming offering, Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Will Ferrell made a surprise appearance as George W. Bush, and a slew of celebrities appeared in taped sketches to skewer Trump’s alternative truths and attacks on the media. The event, meant to be a celebration of the First Amendment and the press, was taped Saturday in Washington, D.C., and airs at 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET on Saturday on TBS.
The White House Correspondents’ Dinner airs on C-SPAN at 6:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. ET.