Journalists for The New York Times and CNN may not love President Donald Trump, but they definitely loved their yearly invitation to the White House media Christmas party — a party that Trump has cancelled, to their great dismay, for two years running.
The White House did not officially announce, this year, that they would not be holding the annual event but, Politico reports, no on on the president’s staff put the media party on the White House’s official schedule, depriving the White House Press Corps of an evening of fun, frivolity, finger foods, and photo opportunities.
Instead, select journalists were given tickets for private White House tours.
“The White House Christmas press party was not put on the holiday schedule this year,” a White House official told Politico. “[W]e have accommodated members of the media and their families who have asked to see the holiday decorations.”
Donald and Melania Trump hosted a scaled-back version of the event in 2017 but cancelled the party outright in 2018, after the Trump Administration tired of its combative relationship with the White House Press Corps. Sensing that hosting a party for their ideological opponents might not be in their best interests, the White House has called time on the soiree again this year, to the great dismay of White House reporters, who once feasted and drank as kings on the taxpayers’ dime.
“Journalists who attended the events, which featured a catered buffet of lamb chops, crab claws and elaborate desserts, got to roam the decorated mansion with a spouse or other family member, a friend or a colleague, adding to the invitation’s allure,” according to Fox News’ Howard Kurtz. “But the biggest fringe-benefit was the picture-taking sessions, in which the president and first lady would patiently pose with guests and briefly chat with them in front of a Christmas tree, with the White House sending out the photos — copies of which were invariably sent home to mom. This would take a couple of hours, with long lines snaking across the building’s first floor. Bill Clinton even posed for pictures with journalists days after he was impeached.”
Reporters complained openly on social media.
“The canceling of the WH media christmas party was a story last year, and now it’s just gone and it’s not even a thing, like the press briefing and the NYT/WaPo subscriptions,” whined New York Times and MSNBC reporter Annie Karni.
Conde Nast’s Luke Zaleski called the move emblematic of the Trump Administration’s dictatorial tendencies. “Every day. In every way. Trump destroys American institutions while wrapping himself in warped populism and lurching toward dictatorship. if it gets much worse it won’t be reecoverable. In fact it might be over already. Just a question of how badly he will cheat in the election,” he tweeted.
Every day. In every way. Trump destroys American institutions while wrapping himself in warped populism and lurching toward dictatorship. if it gets much worse it won’t be reecoverable. In fact it might be over already. Just a question of how badly he will cheat in the election. https://t.co/dmXqkdkNWK
— Luke Zaleski (@ZaleskiLuke) December 12, 2019
CNN’s Brian Stetler noted that he was not among those who had forgotten: “It’s still a thing to me.”
It's still a thing to me https://t.co/kB9V51ovct
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) December 11, 2019
CNN likely contributed to the White House’s decision to toss the party off the official calendar. Back in 2017, when Trump hosted a more selective version of the annual event, the network invited on two White House reporters who had been very confrontational with the White House to complain that they’d been left off the guest list.