Trump lambasts media for 'phony' WHCD at Michigan rally

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE criticized journalists attending the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner Saturday — during a rally held in Michigan in place of attending the event.

"Is this better than that phony Washington White House correspondents' dinner? Is this more fun?" Trump asked the audience to uproarious applause. "I could be up there smiling with these people, they hate your guts."

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This is the second year the president has skipped the annual event that brings together members of the media and government officials to raise money for scholarships. Last year, Trump held a similar campaign-style rally in Harrisburg, Pa.

According to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the president had encouraged his staff to attend this year's dinner, despite forgoing the event himself. 

"The president encouraged his staff and all of us to attend and so we did, and we felt like it was important for us to come out and be here," Sanders told CNN Saturday evening on the red carpet event preceding the dinner. 

Trump has been a harsh critic of the media since his 2016 presidential campaign, often labeling various outlets "fake news" and deeming much of the reporting on his administration unfair.