Trump Explains Why He's Skipping the White House Correspondents' Dinner
The president addressed the Oscars, took aim at Obama over recent White House leaks and blamed his skipping of the dinner, which celebrates the First Amendment, on the media.
President Donald Trump sat down for his first morning TV interview since his inauguration to discuss everything from Sunday's Oscars to the upcoming White House Correspondents' Dinner and his Tuesday night joint address to Congress.
In an interview with Fox News' Fox & Friends from the White House, Trump shrugged off being the butt of several jokes during the Academy Awards telecast by saying the "other side" often pulls the "race card."
"It just seems like the other side, whenever they’re losing badly, they always pull out the race card," the president said. "I’ve watched it for years. I watched it against Ronald Reagan, I’ve watched it against so many other people. And they always like pulling out the race card."
During the Oscars, host Jimmy Kimmel targeted Trump over his tweeting, his accusations against the "fake news" media and thanked Trump for fixing the awards show's diversity issues.
"Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist?" asked Kimmel. "That's gone, thanks to him."
Trump touted how well he did in the election with Hispanic and African-American voters and insisted he doesn't take it personally.
"I consider it a very serious violation when they say it and I have to write it off as being purely politics," he said during the interview.
Trump also explained why he will be skipping this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner in April, which has seen multiple news outlets drop out in the face of Trump's tenuous relationship with the press.
"I am not a hypocrite. And I haven't been treated properly, and that's OK, that's fine," he said of his historic decision. He will be the first president to break tradition and skip the dinner since Ronald Reagan in 1981 — the former president missed the dinner while recovering from an assassination attempt, but still delivered remarks over the phone.
Trump added that it's a misconception he didn't enjoy himself when he attended the annual event in 2011, a night that saw him get roasted by President Obama.
"I had a great time. I can't act like I'm thrilled because they're telling jokes. Everyone was telling jokes," he said. "It was fun and I enjoyed it. I left and told the press it was fantastic. The next day I read: 'Donald Trump felt terrible about the evening.'"
When asked by co-host Brian Kilmeade if he could name one time where a hit he took in the press was justified, Trump couldn't cite one example.
"Over the years, you make a mistake. I fully understand when they hit you. But when they make stories up, when they create sources," he said, doubling down on his opinions about the media's use of anonymous sources. "Sometimes they do exist, but I believe a lot of the sources are made up. I believe a lot of the stories are made up. I believe a lot of the stories are pure fiction."
Speaking directly to three reporters, Trump went back-and-forth on his lack of respect for the media.
"I just thought in light of the fact of fake news and all of the other stuff we're talking about now, it would be inappropriate," he said of attending this year's event.
He then added, "I have great respect for the press, I have great respect for reporters and the whole profession. With all of that being said, I just thought it would be better if I didn't do the dinner. That doesn't mean I'm not going to do it next year."
Steve Doocy began the interview by thanking Trump for his Fox & Friends shoutout during his marathon press conference.
"You have treated me very fairly and I appreciate that," said Trump, a known fan of Fox News. "I've been a friend of your show for a long time."
Before talk turned to his upcoming address to Congress, Trump spoke about how he and press secretary Sean Spicer have been handling threats of leaks within the administration.
"We don't have a major leak process here, we have a major leak process in government," he said.
He then mentioned how people from other campaigns and governments are still in the White House and suggested some of the recent White House leaks are coming from President Obama and his former administration.
"In terms of [Obama] being behind things, that's politics, and that will probably continue," he said, adding that he's not surprised. "I'm changing things that he's wanted to do. I'm much tougher in terms of getting the bad guys out."
Refusing to call his Twitter attacks "venting," Trump repeated his claim that his tweeting helps him to go around the "dishonest media."
"Most of the people who want me to stop it are the enemies," he said. "If I felt the media were honest, or most of it, I wouldn't do it."
When talk turned to his Tuesday night address, Trump teased plans to speak about his proposal to spend an additional $54 billion on the U.S. military.
"We will be having the greatest military we've ever had by the time we finish," he claimed. "All I can do is speak from the heart and say what I want to do." He added that he plans to discuss a health care plan that he said will be inclusive and "terrific" and that he will talk about the border.
"We're getting the bad ones out. The bad people. Drug lords, in some cases murderers," he said taking blame for that not being communicated correctly.
When asked about enacting his plans to repeal Obamacare, Trump said, "Don't forget I've only been here for what, four weeks? They've been working on health care for 30 years. I've only been here for, what is this, my fifth week?"
But he did admit that his messaging could use some work.
"I give myself an A+ in effort," he said. "In terms of messaging, I would give myself a C or a C+. My messaging isn't good."
He added, "I and my people, I don't think we've explained [my achievements] well enough to the American public. Maybe I change that during the speech."