The important thing isn't the tweet. (You know the one I mean: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.") The important thing is the tweet after the tweet.
Who can figure out the true meaning of "covfefe" ??? Enjoy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
If we needed any more evidence that President Trump loves to distract journalists and voters, we have the perfect exhibit right here. Sometimes we have to wonder whether a Trump tweet is serious or merely a diversion. In this case, there is no doubt. He explicitly launched a wild-goose chase to divine the real significance of a typo.
And it probably was just a typo. Let's not assign too much credit here. It looks like Trump started to type out a midnight rant about “negative press coverage” and made a few stray thumb taps by accident. He then deleted the tweet, as he sometimes does when he misspells a word, but not in time to stop #covfefe from becoming an overnight sensation.
Ever the opportunist, Trump embraced the moment and sent a follow-up tweet, welcoming the attention. Why not? Every minute spent dissecting “covfefe” is a minute not spent talking about the Russia investigation or the resignation of the White House communications director or why the heck the president would want to pick a fight with Germany.
The morning shows on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC devoted time to “covfefe.” It was the lead item in Wednesday's Politico Playbook. You're reading about it in The Washington Post right now.
It is true that much of the analysis has been unfavorable. Why can't the president kick this late-night Twitter habit? Didn't he see, when he was overseas and too busy to tweet, how much smoother the news cycle can be when he shows a little restraint?
“Covfefe” did not reverse the negative press coverage that Trump appeared to be trying to decry. It did, however, shift some of it onto a relatively harmless subject.
That's a win for the president.