President Donald Trump’s staff did not want him to attend last year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, because they were “terrified that he would die up there in front of a seething and contemptuous audience.”
This is according to the latest excerpt from Michael Wolff’s bombshell forthcoming book about the Trump administration, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, published in the U.K. edition of GQ on Thursday.
The excerpt focused on a key aspect of both President Donald Trump’s obsession and revulsion: the media. It examines all facets including Trump’s relationship to the media—an intense desire to get a positive New York Times piece—and also how his top White House aides view and use media.
Most revealing tidbit, however, was the behind-the-curtain look at how Trump ended up declining to attend the White House Correspondents’ dinner, the annual black-tie affair at which president usually play the role of a stand-up comic. The star-studded dinner honoring the White House press corps was a source of worry, because as White House advisor Kellyanne Conway allegedly said, Trump is not funny “in that kind of humorous way.”
“Almost nobody except the president himself thought he could pull off the Correspondents’ Dinner,” Wolff writes.
Former White House advisor Steve Bannon also ruled against the president attending the event, during which a comedian also roasts the president. He said that “the president should not be seen currying the favor of his enemies or trying to entertain them.”
Trump ended up not attending, but according to Wolff, he asked for continuous updates during the evening about the jokes.
The reaction of Wolff’s book has been a healthy dose of skepticism from the media and denials from figures quoted in it. Trump’s lawyer also threatened to sue Bannon and is trying to halt the book’s release.
On Thursday, news site Axios reported that Wolff has tapes for some of the key interviews, including with Bannon, making it more difficult for those quoted to deny any critical comments about the president.
Earlier this week, New York Magazine published an excerpt titled “Donald Trump Didn’t Want to Be President,” and The Guardian published a piece which quoted Bannon calling a Trump Tower meeting with Russians “treasonous.”