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Activists Rally In NYC As Trump Backs Out Of Nat'l White House Correspondents' Dinner

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The White House says that when President Donald Trump skips the White House Correspondents' Association dinner, expect him to spend that Saturday night in April "focused on what he can to do to help better America."

The dinner attracts politicians, journalists and celebrities and is typically attended by the president, who's often roasted.

Trump announced that he would not be attending the dinner in a tweet on Saturday.

"I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year," he tweeted. "Please wish everyone well and have a great meeting!"

Trump isn't saying why he won't be there. He has railed against "the fake news media," saying it is "the enemy of the American people."

"A few days ago, I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are. They are the enemy of the people," Trump said Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The New York Times fired back in a new television commercial titled, "The Truth Is Hard," and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, spoke out at the newspaper's headquarters Saturday after the Trump administration barred the Times and other media outlets from an on-the-record briefing.

Trump responded to the ad on Sunday.

"For the first time the failing @nytimes will take an ad (a bad one) to help save its failing reputation," he tweeted. "Try reporting accurately & fairly!"

Keeping up his sharp criticism of the media, Trump tweeted overnight, "fake news media knowingly doesn't tell the truth."

Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says it's "kind of naive of us to think that we can all walk into a room for a couple of hours and pretend that some of that tension isn't there."

She tells ABC's "This Week" that Trump wasn't elected "to spend his time with reporters and celebrities."

In response to the recent backlash, activists gathered Sunday in front of the New York Times building on 41st Street to show solidarity with the publication.

"If it weren't for the free press, who is not part of the government, we really wouldn't know what the Trump Administration, the Republican Administration, Bannon, are doing," one woman told WCBS 880's Myles Miller.  

Rep. Carolyn Maloney said outside The New York Times offices in Manhattan that she wants the Trump administration to commit to a policy of press access for all. The Democrat says standards should apply evenly to all news organizations.

The rally, put together by activist group Get Organized Brooklyn, was prompted after the White House banned several news organizations from attending a press briefing earlier this week.

"We are as American and President Trump and we want him to abide by the principles that make us who we are," a spokesperson for the group said.

The New York Times, CNN and Politico, were among those reporters, according to the Times. According to The Hill newspaper, The Hill, BBC, the Daily Mail and the Los Angeles Times were also not allowed into the briefing.

Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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