While You Were Offline: Trump’s Paris Agreement Decision Turned Into Quite a ‘Covfefe’


Hey, did you hear? Ethiopia shut down the internet to stop kids from cheating on exams. You didn’t? Huh. That’s usually the kind of thing that makes it onto everyone’s timeline. What about the results of the National Spelling Bee? That didn’t make it to your Facebook wall either? Well, that’s what happens when the internet can’t even settle on one thing to be obsessed with. It’s been an epoch-making—or maybe that should be epoch-breaking—week, and it’s OK to have been overwhelmed by it all. In case you let your attention wander during the past seven days, here’s what you might have missed.

Paris Discord

What Happened: Hands up, everyone who thought that maybe, just maybe, President Trump wouldn’t pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement. We have some bad news…
What Really Happened: ICYMI, the president announced last week that America would withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement, becoming one of only three countries in the world that hasn’t signed onto it. (Of the other two, one didn’t sign on because the Paris accord’s emissions restrictions didn’t go far enough.) Sure, this feels like a big deal, but what did Twitter think?

You know what? Let’s go to business leaders, who are almost certainly appreciating what Trump did, considering one of his rationales was that the agreement was unfair and unjust to American corporations. SpaceX’s Elon Musk, what do you think?

Oh, OK, that doesn’t look good. Disney CEO Bob Iger, what about you?

Well, at least the boss of General Electric will be in fav—

Ouch. Well, at least it’s not like Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein joined Twitter specifically to speak out against the decision or anything.

Fine. But, as the president said, he’s doing it for America and not for Paris or whatever, so obviously other American leaders will stand behind him and not band together to write an open letter condemning the decision and announcing their own intent to uphold the agreement. Actually, never mind. So, Trump’s decision wasn’t going over so well at first, but just like Newton’s third law, every opinion on Twitter will have an equal and opposite counter-opinion.

At least now it’s clear who’ll be happy when the ecological apocalypse comes.
The Takeaway: Over to you, celebrated literary figure Kurt Vonnegut!

Hot ‘Covfefe’

What Happened: President Trump tweeted a fake word. The internet had a ball trying to define it.
What Really Happened: Early last week, President Trump tweeted a rather bizarre phrase: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.” That was it. There was no punctuation, no follow-up tweet where he admitted that “covfefe” was obviously a “coverage” typo, not even a deletion of the tweet. “Despite the constant negative press covfefe” was it. For a surprisingly long time.

Less surprisingly, Twitter was fascinated.

Even as the internet struggled to define the word, the myth of covfefe grew. (Multiple definitions can be found here, if you’re looking.) Multiple outlets pondered and snarked about its meaning, and even Hillary Clinton got in on the joke. Although President Trump deleted the tweet later, he replaced it with something to keep the story going:

It looked as if, for once, Trump was OK with a joke at his expense. But thinking that would be a mistake, as the next White House press briefing made clear:

Then things got weirder, as Trump fans started arguing that Trump really was sending a secret message with the tweet. “COVFEFE IS A MESSAGE IN ARABIC!” they argued, making the case that “Trump = cultured, worldly man. Haters = idiots” because no one recognized that “Cov fe’fe” means “I will stand up” in Arabic.

Here’s the thing, though: that’s not actually true. The New York Times had the best response to this theory: “Mr. Alnaemi, who previously worked for The New York Times in Baghdad, made a good-faith effort to see where this mistranslation may have come from. In a phone interview, he repeated the word ‘covfefe’ several times before finally laughing. ‘Come on,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry. No.’”

The Takeaway: “Covfefe,” it turns out, might just mean “You played yourself.”

Off With His He—No, Wait, Never Mind

What Happened: Wondering what not to do to get people talking about you? Here’s an idea: Don’t pretend to have beheaded the president of the United States.
What Really Happened: Continuing This Week in Outrage… well, this:

Now there is an image you’re not likely to forget anytime soon. While beheading a sitting president in an obviously faked, but gruesome, picture might be a way to get attention, it might not be the best kind of attention. To wit.

Funny story, though: That’s pretty much exactly what it became.

Let’s look at the evidence, shall we?

Eventually, Griffin tried to diffuse the situation.

President Trump did not accept her apology.

The Takeaway: The hottest take of the whole situation:

#InternetBands

What Happened: In a week when everything seemed controversial, is it possible bad puns could bring us together?
What Really Happened: It’s been a long, stressful week, and we all just need to get back to a place of trivial, ridiculous things. Like Comedy Central’s @midnight reviving a 2014 hashtag where band names became puns using internet terminology.

See? Isn’t that better? Doesn’t it just make you long for simpler times when the world wide web was full of such frivolities?
The Takeaway: Oh, OK. Two more. We’ll leave you with these—you have to decide who wore it best.

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