The 2018 National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse outside the White House. (Sadie Dingfelder/Sadie Dingfelder)
Media critic

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump co-opted a seasonal staple of Fox News programming. “You know, you go from one thing to the next to the point where it’s not politically correct to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to anybody, or you go to stores and you don’t ever see the word ‘Christmas’ anymore,” said the candidate. “We are going to start saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again."

Just not, it turns out, to people in the media.

As Fox News media correspondent Howard Kurtz reports, the Trump White House is bagging the annual media Christmas bash, a staple of elite Washington. “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,” writes Kurtz, beefing up a late-November tidbit in Politico Playbook.

The brilliance of this White House Christmas party lay in its extreme awkwardness. Presidents would stand with plastered smiles alongside media types for whom they had no fondness whatsoever. For example: Democratic President Barack Obama and Fox News chief Roger Ailes, the very man who spent years attempting to undermine his administration. In “Divide and Conquer,” the recently released documentary on Ailes, former Fox News host Alisyn Camerota talks about how she watched as Obama greeted the media mogul: “Roger Ailes, the most powerful man in media.” Back in the office, Ailes told colleagues that Obama had called him “the most powerful man in the world.”

There’ll be no such make-nice moments this year — a move that is consistent with the president’s two no-shows at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner. That’s another event where the head of state is called upon to fake camaraderie with the Fourth Estate.

Apparently there are workarounds for those who provide friendlier coverage:

In any case, the news demonstrates that Trump’s compulsion to attack the U.S. news media outweighs any allegiances to “Merry Christmas.” Surely the commentators on Fox News will take immediate note of this grinchy development, adding it to their list of often imaginary slights against the holiday. Just last week, host Tucker Carlson railed against a Nebraska elementary school principal who issued a ban on a range of Christmas stuff. “Well, the War on Christmas is totally fake. They always tell you that on TV,” said Carlson. “But it’s also underway again, and got off to a hot start last week with the left launching a new offensive against Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

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