Trump’s tweet gives us a gig­gle, but it’s ‘one more stupid thing’ that dis­tracts us from what mat­ters.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Matt Pearce matt.pearce@la­

Was the pres­i­dent’s seem­ingly ran­dom tweet a dis­trac­tion, or a cause for con­cern?

At 9:06 Pa­cific time Tues­day even­ing (12:06 a.m. Wed­nes­day on the East Coast), Pres­i­dent Trump, as he does some­times, sent a tweet:

“De­spite the con­stant neg­a­tive press cov­fefe” That was it. Was the pres­i­dent OK? Did he drop his phone into some water? Did it ex­plode midtweet? Were aides try­ing to wres­tle the de­vice away from him and some­one ac­ci­den­tally hit “send” on a half-writ­ten mes­sage? Why did he wait more than five hours be­fore delet­ing it? What is cov­fefe? These were the ques­tions the In­ter­net col­lec­tively asked, not very se­ri­ously, as more than 125,000 users retweeted the cryptic dis­patch from the most pow­er­ful per­son in the world.

Cov­fefe had be­come one of those ex­haust­ing cul­tural events that, from time to time, in­spires a col­lec­tive re­sponse so that we feel in con­tact with each other, or at least do not feel left out. Parker Hig­gins was among those who joined in.

“Like many peo­ple I have blocked the Pres­i­dent of the United States on Twit­ter be­cause he is lit­er­ally an in­ter­net troll,” Hig­gins, a 29-year-old artist and ac­tivist from San Fran­cisco, wrote in a pri­vate mes­sage on Twit­ter, where he has changed his last name to “Hig­gfefe.” “So when he cre­ates news by tweet­ing, I only see it by the time­line’s re­ac­tion, like how sci­en­tists ob­serve black holes.”

Hig­gins, who some­times de­signs T-shirts, saw the storm of cov­fefe jokes Tues­day night and im­me­di­ately knew a Trump tweet was the source of the mad­ness. He spent “lit­er­ally 25 sec­onds” to de­sign a black “cov­fefe” T-shirt, with the word in white Hel­vetica font, as his con­tri­bu­tion.

“Here buy a shirt that says cov­fefe,” Hig­gins tweeted, post­ing a link to the de­sign he’d up­loaded to, where the shirts could be or­dered for $20.

It was a joke. Hig­gins said later, “I prayed peo­ple had the good sense not to buy it be­cause it would leave me in an eth­i­cal dilemma of what to do with the pro­ceeds.” But peo­ple did not have good sense. Hig­gins has sold dozens of shirts.

“I’m al­ready an ACLU donor, but maybe I’ll in­crease it this month,” Hig­gins told The Times. “Or put it in a health­care fund or some­thing. Who knows.”

He added, “Ev­ery­thing’s stupid, and this is one more stupid thing.”

On Wed­nes­day morn­ing Trump’s cov­fefe tweet van­ished from his ac­count, and other news be­gan creep­ing from be­neath its shadow on­line. Ninety peo­ple were re­ported killed and 400 in­jured in a car bomb­ing in Kabul, Afghanistan. Re­ports cir­cu­lated that Trump was think­ing of aban­don­ing the Paris ac­cord, a global pact to fight cli­mate change.

But the mem­ory lin­gered. Morn­ing talk show hosts talked about cov­fefe. News or­ga­ni­za­tions churned out sto­ries about cov­fefe.

The pres­i­dent joined in, tweet­ing a new mes­sage about cov­fefe, but didn’t of­fer an ex­pla­na­tion:

“Who can fig­ure out the true mean­ing of ‘cov­fefe’??? En­joy!”

At a news brief­ing later in the day, a re­porter asked White House spokesman Sean Spicer about cov­fefe. “The pres­i­dent and a small group of peo­ple know ex­actly what he meant,” Spicer said.

Other re­porters raised their voices in dis­be­lief, press­ing ques­tions that Spicer ig­nored.

Me­dia the­o­rist Neil Post­man, in his 1985 clas­sic, “Amus­ing Our­selves to Death: Pub­lic Dis­course in the Age of Show Busi­ness,” wrote that so­ci­ety has long braced it­self to fight tyranny. But that, he warned, is not the only threat to so­ci­ety and cul­ture.

“Ev­ery­thing in our back­ground has pre­pared us to know and re­sist a prison when the gates be­gin to close around us,” Post­man wrote. “But who is pre­pared to take arms against a sea of amuse­ments? To whom do we com­plain, and when, and in what tone of voice, when se­ri­ous dis­course dis­solves into gig­gles? What is the an­ti­dote to a cul­ture’s be­ing drained by laugh­ter?”

How do you pronounce cov­fefe?

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