The decision comes after several of this year’s honorees — including Norman Lear and Lionel Richie — said they would skip the traditional White House reception that coincides with the December event in protest of Trump’s political agenda and his response to the white supremacist violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Va.
“The President and First Lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “First Lady Melania Trump, along with her husband President Donald J. Trump, extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments.”
The move is the latest sign of the backlash to Trump from the entertainment industry after his series of conflicting statements about the violence in Charlottesville that left a 32-year-old woman dead. After he insisted that leftist counter-protesters shared blame for the incidents and asserted that some participants in the rally were “fine people,” the condemnation from Hollywood as well as other sectors has been swift.
On Friday, members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned en masse in protest of those statements. So many prominent CEOs fled the White House’s business-related panels that…
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