Trump is following through on what proved to be a successful campaign strategy, LoMonte said.
“He was caught lying on dozens and dozens of occasions — including about things where it’s not a matter of opinion or degree or shading, where it’s a true or false question, and he simply told a falsehood,” he said. “I think if you’re going to be in the business of telling a lot of falsehoods, then you have to seek to discredit the truth squad.”
Trump will be the first president to skip the White House Correspondents’ Dinner since 1981 — when then-President Ronald Reagan was recovering from an assassination attempt.
Jas Chana, spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Censorship, said Trump’s decision to skip the event breaks from the traditional relationship between the media and the president.
“That’s very concerning because it threatens a democracy of which a free press with effective access is a fundamental pillar,” he said.
Many feel the annual dinner diminishes the stature of the news media and wastes the time of journalists, who should be using their time and resources to pursue serious news stories, LoMonte said.
“Honestly, I don’t see how he could have gone through with that event, which is supposed to be about good-natured joshing,” he said. “There is nothing good-natured about his relationship with the media. He has made it clear that it’s his intention to destroy the reputations of very well-regarded journalists, and to play nice with them for a night would be insincere.”
The White House Correspondents’ Association tweeted Saturday that they would still hold the event in order to celebrate the First Amendment and to support up-and-coming journalists through its scholarship program.
"We look forward to shining a spotlight at the dinner on some of the best political journalism of the past year and recognizing the promising students who represent the next generation of our profession," the tweet from Jeff Mason, the WHCA president, said.
People should subscribe to reputable news organizations and support civic education in public schools to increase the ability to distinguish between falsehoods and truths, LoMonte said.
“If politicians are going to start telling lies and then delegitimizing the people who call them out, then we need a really strong, well-resourced news media that can withstand that onslaught,” he said.