Trump ramps up attacks on media ahead of White House correspondents' dinner

President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE has reignited his attacks on the news media in the days leading up to the White House correspondents’ dinner, underscoring the White House’s use of the press as an effective foil.

Trump will skip the dinner for a third straight year, opting to hold a rally in Wisconsin instead on Saturday night. He also has directed other administration officials not to attend.

"The correspondents’ dinner is too negative. I like positive things," Trump said earlier this month in explaining his decision.

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Within hours of those comments, he had taken to Twitter to characterize the press as “the enemy of the people,” a favorite insult that has appeared to get under the skin of some members of the media.

Trump has continued his nearly constant criticisms of the news media in the weeks since, repeatedly lashing out in the aftermath of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE’s investigation into Russia's election interference.

The latest wave of criticism reached its crest on Tuesday, when he fired off seven tweets castigating the press and singling out specific outlets and reporters by name. It included shots at “Psycho Joe” Scarborough of MSNBC and applied the term “enemy of the people” to The New York Times, despite its publisher warning Trump about the dangerous implications of the phrase.

The White House essentially trolled journalists on Thursday when press secretary Sarah HuckabeeSarah Elizabeth SandersApril Ryan's bodyguard issued summons over alleged assault of local journalist Sarah Sanders: Democrats should 'quit lying and do their jobs' Biden pledges return to daily press briefings as president MORE Sanders made her first appearance at the briefing room podium in 45 days — complete with an appearance by Vice President Pence — at a Q&A as part of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day at the White House. Reporters were unable to ask questions.

None of the Trump attacks are the least bit shocking, and they are likely to continue as the president seeks another four years in office.

Trump has scored political victories in part by running against the press, which delights his core supporters. There is every indication that the president will continue with this strategy in 2020, framing the election in part on a Washington elite symbolized by the mainstream media seeking to thwart his effort to win another four years in the Oval Office.

Trump has a long history with the White House Correspondents' Association and its dinner, which is a key part of the story surrounding how Trump became president and of his relationship with the media.

Trump was the subject of ridicule at the 2011 event from both Seth Meyers and President Obama, who made fun of Trump’s decisionmaking and importance with references to “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Trump, Obama said at the time, recognized the need to fire Gary Busey and not Lil Jon or Meatloaf in a recent episode.

"And these are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night," Obama said, mocking Trump. "Well handled, sir. Well handled."

The jokes started a narrative that Trump had launched his presidential campaign because of the jokes at his expense, though The Washington Post’s Roxanne Roberts, who sat next to Trump at the 2011 dinner, has largely shot down that theory.

As president, Trump has stayed away from the dinner, which nonetheless provoked a huge controversy last year after comedian Michelle Wolf delivered a searing set that mocked the press, congressional Republicans and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who attended in Trump's place.

The fallout led to changes at the dinner itself, which will feature biographer Ron Chernow as the keynote speaker in lieu of a comedic act.

The White House was unmoved by the shift in tone, as Trump directed other administration officials not to attend.

Trump will still loom large over Saturday evening's proceedings. His consistent attacks on the media have raised concerns among First Amendment and press freedom watchdogs, and his rally could lead to split-screen coverage of the festivities in D.C.

The president's campaign rallies are typically rife with jabs at the media. Trump often references "fake news," whipping his supporters into a frenzy while pointing at reporters in the back of the venue.

The press has served as a useful political foil for Trump, who has rallied his base by portraying himself as an outsider unwelcome by the Washington establishment and a victim of unfair coverage and punditry.

While that is likely to continue through the remainder of Trump's first term and possibly beyond, the president provided a glimpse on Thursday of a more measured opinion of those who cover him.

Speaking to the children of White House staffers and members of the press corps at a Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day event, Trump acknowledged that the media reports accurately "most of the time."

"They are protecting all of your families, and they’re getting the word out, and they want to get the word out fairly and honestly," he said.

By Friday afternoon, Trump had shifted back into attack mode. After gesturing to the media during remarks to the National Rifle Association (NRA) in Indianapolis, he said, "Why are they opposed to things that truly make our country great?"

"Why? Nobody gets it. I don’t get it. The level of dishonesty and corruption in the media is unbelievable," he added.