WASHINGTON—It appeared at 12:06 a.m., without warning, like a shooting star through the dark night, if the star was half of a real word and that half of a word was attached to the suffix “fefe” and then it just stayed up there for hours for some reason.
Covfefe. Noun. (Was it a noun? It seems like it was trying to be a noun.) A word used, today, by the president of the United States.
It has come to this. To the confusion, delight and genuine alarm of the night owls of the world’s most powerful country, Donald Trump wrote the following six words to his 31 million Twitter followers early on Wednesday morning: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe”
That was it.
There was no period. There was no rest of the sentence.
We know he meant “coverage.” But he did not make a correction, at least not immediately. Unlike Trump’s many other Twitter goofs, which he tends to amend within minutes, this one was left online for almost six hours — entertaining, though also concerning.
Then, at 6:09 a.m., Trump finally tweeted, shortly after the deleting the “covfefe” tweet: “Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’??? Enjoy!”
For those nearly six hours, was nobody in the Trump administration awake? Did nobody in the Trump administration think they could or should tell the president to fix an embarrassing error? Had there been an actual mid-sentence emergency?
Unable to do anything about the nuclear codes being in possession of the person who said covfefe and then vanished, people on the Internet made jokes.
It was impossible, obviously, to compete with the original.
“What makes me saddest,” wrote late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, “is that I know I’ll never write anything funnier than #covfefe.”
But the Internet people tried. Oh, they tried. For a brief moment in time, Twitter, that cesspool of bitterness, returned to its roots as a giddy gathering of bad amateur comics.
They offered mocking definitions. (“When you want to say ‘coverage’ but your hands are too small to hit all the letters on your keyboard,” read one entry on Urban Dictionary.) They made comedic purchases. (“My dad just bought the CA license plate ‘COVFEFE,’” Talya Cooper tweeted with a photo of the triumphant fellow.) There was silliness and pointedness.
“When mom asks you to use your questionable 7-letter Scrabble play in a sentence,” said writer Louis Virtel.
“Not only is covfefe a word,” actor Zach Braff wrote under a photo of Trump press secretary Sean Spicer, “it’s the greatest word ever uttered.”
“Everybody can chill, he fixed it,” said writer Cody Johnston, pointing to an image that read: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe, im doonk a goolb jerbb an togentchroh we mac armargollp great again!”
Covfefe remained Twitter’s top trending topic until it was deleted just before 6 a.m. The president’s tweet had more than 100,000 retweets.
For a few hours, Donald Trump had brought the world together.
No. Of course he didn’t.
Trump’s staunchest supporters were unwilling to betray any hint of a chuckle. With Trump’s aides apparently asleep — the White House confirmed Tuesday that communications director Mike Dubke plans to resign — Kayleigh McEnany, one of the president’s designated defenders on CNN, began tweeting that covfefe was all part of the master plan.
“Covfefe — our President is human. Hilarious! Funny to watch left go nuts,” she wrote. “An intentional ‘dog will chase the tail’ tweet!”
To make sure the tweet was seen, McEnany added in the trending hashtag.
With files from Alanna Rizza