Fifteen hours after Donald Trump typed the now-infamous words “Despite the constant negative press covfefe” into his Twitter account, White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked about the incident.
“The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant,” Spicer responded.
No. Let me reconsider that reaction.
Yes, I know the fact that the president of the United States made a typo and then left it up on Twitter for more than 5 hours is not exactly the Cuban Missile Crisis. But, I argued earlier today that it was a telling window into this president’s isolation and his inability or unwillingness to take direction or even advice from any of his staff.
Spicer’s odd response to an obvious – and easily dismissed – question about it makes things even stranger. He obviously knew the question was coming. “Covfefe” was all the talk of cable news all morning.
So, what if rather than the answer he gave, Spicer said something like: “The president made a typo. He meant to type ‘coverage.’ Raise your hand if you’ve never made a typo on Twitter.”
The reporters would have laughed. The situation would have been defused. It would have dismissed as a weird episode, soon forgotten.
But, that’s not what Sean said.
In fact, in a very serious tone – I couldn’t see his face because the White House had announced today’s press briefing would be off camera – Spicer seemed to suggest the tweet was some sort of purposeful inside joke.
“A small group of people know exactly what he meant,” raises WAY more questions than answers about what should be a total nothing-burger. It suggests that Trump’s typo was intentional and that the people who needed to know what he meant did.
Except, what? The simplest explanation, which is almost always the right explanation, is that Trump meant to write “coverage”, accidentally typed “covfefe” and then went to bed without either realizing the misspelling or even that he had sent the tweet at all. When he got up in the morning, he realized his error and changed it.
Why would Spicer make the official White House response anything other than that most obvious one?
Short answer: Who knows?
Long answer: Because Spicer is so wrapped around his own axle – and so frustrated with the press corps (and with his boss, the president) – that he’s simply not capable of seeing the forest through the trees. That something that should be totally simple – “it was a typo, duh” – turned into a bizarre answer that will keep the story in the news longer than it needs to be.