WASHINGTON — White House aides, reporters and other famous-for-Washington types were set to gather without President Trump to toast press freedom.
It was to be the second White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in a row without the president. Trump posted on Facebook this past week that he would hold a Saturday evening rally in Michigan with his ‘‘favorite deplorables’’ — a term that Democrat Hillary Clinton used in 2016 to describe some of Trump’s campaign supporters.
The Washington dinner, which once attracted Oscar winners and buzzed-about stars, comes as Trump routinely slams reporters as dishonest and their work as ‘‘fake news.’’
The dinner airs live Saturday at 9:30 p.m. on C-SPAN’s TV broadcast and on its website.
CNN will start its own coverage at 7 p.m., according to the network.
Comedian Michelle Wolf was on tap to deliver what’s usually a roast of the president and the press.
‘‘I like making fun of people to their face ... more than behind their backs, so it would have been more fun’’ if Trump were in the audience, Wolf told CBS’ ‘‘This Morning Saturday.’’
‘‘None of my jokes changed. It’s just nicer to make fun of them when they’re there. I think it’s cowardly not to go.’’
Trump’s aides skipped last year’s dinner, when some accompanied Trump to a rally in Pennsylvania where he celebrated his 100th day in office. This year, however, even with Trump out of town, many White House aides were expected to hobnob with the journalists who cover them.
In 2017, Trump became the first president to skip the event since Ronald Reagan in 1981; Reagan was recovering from an assassination attempt.