At 100 days in, Trump seems both outsider and insider

President Richard Nixon did not attend the dinner in 1974 and 1972.

President Donald Trump ordered a review of all existing trade agreements, one of two executive orders he signed Saturday before a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. With that backdrop he signed an executive order directing the Commerce Department and the USA trade representative to conduct a study of US trade agreements. Then Trump will hold a "Make America Great Again" rally also in Harrisburg before returning to Washington.

Trump maintains that his first one hundred days in office have been among the "most successful in our country's history" and is certain that his administration is on the way to accomplishing great things for the American public. There were plenty of jokes about the White House Correspondents' Dinner without Trump, with his absence looming over the proceedings. "A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our nation's capital right now". Richard Nixon was the last president to skip the dinner completely.

"I could not be possibly more thrilled than to be a thousand miles away from [the] Washington swamp, spending my evening with you - a much much larger crowd and better people".

"Promises Made. Promises Kept." read one sign prominently displayed inside the Harrisburg arena. He also once again referred to the New York Times as "failing".

Under Donald Trump, access to the press in the White House has been "very good", the head of the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) said, but asserted that the media is not "fake news", a term frequently used by the U.S. president to slam the media.

Basically, the president is always the center of focus and the most important person in any room they're in, and as such, they're usually the focal point of the entire dinner, with everyone watching to see how they'll react to the host's ribbing.

His team touted Trump's moves to roll back Obama regulations and strike Syria. The "media deserves a big fat failing grade", the president said. Young girls could be heard chanting "We want Trump!" He faulted his predecessor, former President Barack Obama: "the previous administration gave us a mess". But he got his biggest cheers with a sustained attack on the media, returning, almost six months after Election Day, to the same themes that drove his campaign.

Trump said he reversed course on promises to name China a currency manipulator because he wanted its help in trying to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile development.

Only 46 per cent respondents express at least somewhat confidence in Trump's ability, while 17 per cent say not too confident and another 35 per cent express no confidence at all in Trump's ability.

"You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in!" Don't even worry about it. "We're sending the back home where they belong", Trump said before ripping into the Democrats for their refusal to support law enforcement and funding the much-needed border wall.

Trump, who had no government or military experience before he ran for president, acknowledged this week that running the government is tougher than he expected.

Trump also used his annual weekly address to amplify his 100th day message.

"I respectfully suggest that it's not just about the Correspondents' Dinner; it's rather an opportunity for him to talk to voters that elected him and what he's been able to accomplish in the first 100 days", White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Friday.

  • Jon Douglas