President Trump and First Lady Melania Skipping Kennedy Center Honors Ceremony
"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," reads the statement (via Billboard).
This year, the Kennedy Center will honor hip-hop icon LL Cool J, television mogul Norman Lear, performer-actress Gloria Estefan, singer-songwriter Lionel Richie and dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallad. We must mentioned that Lear wasn't sure if he would attend the ceremony, "given [Trump's] indifference or worse regarding the arts and humanities."
Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein and President Deborah F. Rutter said in a joint statement that they respect Trump's decision. It reads:
In choosing not to participate in this year's Honors activities, the administration has graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the honorees. We are grateful for this gesture. The honorees will be celebrated at a Kennedy Center gala on Dec. 3, featuring performances and tributes from top entertainers. A State Department reception and awards dinner on Dec. 2 will also be held as planned."
A Kennedy Center official said this will be the fourth time a President decided to not attend the event. President Jimmy Carter skipped it in 1979, President H.W. Bush in 1989 and President Bill Clinton in 1994.
The announcement comes after a week of political upheaval in the White House following the rally and tragedy in Charlottesville, Va., last Saturday.
Rubenstein and Rutter said this year's honorees are expected to attend the ceremony.