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This year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner will mark the five-year anniversary of the night President Barack Obama and comedian Seth Meyers made Donald Trump a laughingstock.
In the spring of 2011, Trump showed up to the famed dinner as a potential Republican presidential candidate furiously pushing the conspiracy that Obama was born outside the United States. Trump reportedly left humiliated after a string of stinging jokes mocking his hair, his taste, his reality television show, and his fixation on the "birther" movement.
Less than a month later, Trump announced he would not run in 2012. But that night may have more strongly ignited his desire to be taken seriously as a politician -- and hatched his 2016 run.
As the story goes, reported in The New Yorker and retold many times over, Trump vowed that night to have the last laugh:
One can’t help but suspect that, on that night, Trump’s own sense of public humiliation became so overwhelming that he decided, perhaps at first unconsciously, that he would, somehow, get his own back—perhaps even pursue the Presidency after all, no matter how nihilistically or absurdly, and redeem himself.
That was Adam Gopnik's take in The New Yorker in September. The notion of a Trump presidency is hardly as absurd today as it may have seemed in 2011 or even September, of course, not with the real estate mogul zeroing in on the Republican nomination.
Trump dismisses Gopnik's account, telling the Washington Post this week: “It’s such a false narrative. I had a phenomenal time. I had a great evening.”