Having a direct, publicly available, unfiltered conduit to the President of the United States of America is a very new phenomenon. Traditionally, the only way for the president to communicate with the people of America was through several layers of abstraction and sanitisation at the hands of speechwriters and media advisors. Outside of secret recordings made by intrepid journalists, you were never really given any insight into the actual thoughts of the president.
Trump has changed all that. Presumably by yelling belligerently and red-facedly at anyone who suggested otherwise, the real-estate-developer-turned-game-show-host-turned-head-of-state has never relinquished control of his personal Twitter account and refuses to abstain from tweeting his every single thought, much to the dismay of the spokespeople who are forced defend the incredibly deranged things that he says.
Before his presidency, Trump mostly concerned himself with tweeting about his genius-level IQ (which I absolutely, definitely believe to be true) and Robert Pattinson’s relationshipwith Kristen Stewart. Nowadays, though, it’s a cacophony of gripes and moans about how the deeply unfair mainstream media keeps applying scrutiny to things done by the office of the president. Even at the best of times, his tweets are nonsensical – written in his idiomatic style that is defined by his haphazard approach to punctuation and deep, abiding love of the exclamation mark.
Kind of loses its effect after the 3rd exclamation marks but sure, 5 is fine.
Given that he usually sends them from the toilet in a fit of rage, he is no stranger to making egregious errors in his tweets. He often takes a few attempts to get these things right, hindered as he is by the sweat on his face dripping onto the screen of the new iPhone he was issued that morning (having destroyed his previous one the day prior under similar circumstances). Last night was different, though. At 12:06 am local time in Washington, D.C., the president tweeted “Despite the constant negative press covfefe”. What makes this exceptional is that the tweet stayed up for around six hours.
The tweet provoked a lot of questions – how do you not notice that you just tweeted half a sentence? Did he fall asleep while sending a tweet? Did he die? Is there not a single person in the White House staff who felt compelled to let Trump or the media team know that he just finished a sentence fragment abruptly with “covfefe”? The opinion of forensic social media experts (read: my best guess) is that he started nodding off halfway through writing the word “coverage”, accidentally hit ‘send’ somehow, and awoke six hours later to see that he was being roundly mocked by everyone with an internet connection.
In the White House press briefing this morning, reporters were keen to know just what had happened, with one reporter asking if it was at all concerning that something like this could happen and (seemingly) no one would notice. Sean Spicer, the smooth, charismatic White House press secretary, falteringly replied that it was not a mistake and that “the president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.” Trump himself, in another sad attempt to lean in, tweeted “Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’??? Enjoy!”
This actually happened.
The most obvious explanation to this situation is that the White House is trying to pretend they were making a clever joke to cover up gross incompetence, but I say we humour them. Let’s pretend that “covfefe” is a meaningful, charged word that would only be understood by a fraction of the president’s 31 million followers.
Assuming that the sentence wasn’t truncated erroneously and taking into account Trump’s unique grasp of grammar, we can logically assume that the sentence is meant to be constructed as follows: “Despite negative press, [some other clause]”. From this, we can interpret that the single word “covfefe” is meant to express an idea or sentiment in itself. Other than the fact that the latter half of the word has the chemical symbol for iron in it twice (‘Fe’, as you will remember from high school science), there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable word play and it doesn’t seem to be a portmanteau, so I think it’s reasonable to assume that it is, in fact, an acronym.
There are literally billions of combinations of words that could be arranged to suit the acronym “covfefe”, and it would be absurd to think you could conclusively determine which combination it is just by guessing, but we’re going to do it anyway – it very clearly stands for “Conan O’Brien Very Funny, Entertaining For Everyone”. There you have it folks, a message from the president: despite negative press, Conan O’Brien very funny, entertaining for everyone. A ringing endorsement.