That time the White House promoted a parody article of Trump's 'lean, mean fighting machine' budget
For those looking to fulfill their worldview of a Trump White House so eager for affirmation they’ll overlook where it came from, it was almost too perfect.
The White House’s new email newsletter, “Your 1600 Daily,” is a round up of videos, tweets and moments from the president’s week all carefully curated to give off a sense of goodwill and personality from the White House. And this makes sense: Politicians want to engage their constituents beyond speeches and news conferences, and a digital newsletter is a very #207 way to do it.
But in Friday’s newsletter, things went terribly wrong for the White House. In the “News Reports” section, they shared two articles — one of Trump praising an Irish “fight” at a White House ceremony.
And the other, this Washington Post piece written by Alexandra Petri: “Trump’s budget makes perfect sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why.”
It takes about two seconds to click on Petri’s article and realize she is — umm — not seriously championing Trump’s budget. As Petri, who writes a humor blog for The Post, puts it, her story was “composed almost entirely of onomatopoeic noises (PEW PEW! GRRRRRRRR!) typed out in all caps.”
She’s not exaggerating. Among her explanations for why Trump’s budget is perfect and why things should be cut:
This budget will make America a lean, mean fighting machine with bulging, rippling muscles and not an ounce of fat. America has been weak and soft for too long. BUT HOW WILL I SURVIVE ON THIS BUDGET? you may be wondering. I AM A HUMAN CHILD, NOT A COSTLY FIGHTER JET. You may not survive, but that is because you are SOFT and WEAK, something this budget is designed to eliminate.
Agriculture Department: NO MORE OF THIS NAMBY-PAMBY “GATHERING” NONSENSE. We will be HUNTERS again. This is also why we are cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children: Let them FIGHT for their meat or have NONE.
Chemical Safety Board: Give us CHEMICAL DANGER, which sounds way more metal.
Remarkable? Yes. But this isn’t the first time the Trump White House has made a colossal/colossally embarrassing mistake. Its press office isn’t two months old, and it already has a history of some very sloppy/funny errors. Like:
1) That time they confused Britain’s prime minister with a porn star
Sometimes, one letter can make a universe of difference. In a memo and an official schedule relaying to the press Trump’s January meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, the press office left out the “h” in her first name, effectively telling the world that in the afternoon, the president “will partake in a bilateral meeting” with former adult actress, Teresa May. (Whose film credits, perhaps too perfectly, include: “Whitehouse: The Sex Video”)
The White House quickly corrected the error.
2) That time they appeared to copy ExxonMobile’s news release, word for word
It was in a statement praising, well, ExxonMobil.
White House press release (left) contains full paragraph copied verbatim from Exxon press release (right). pic.twitter.com/NlhoUvdqvd
— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) March 6, 2017
3) That time they released President Trump’s tax returns
Well, they sort of did. But after steadfastly refusing to share his tax returns like every president for the past four decades has done, this week, the White House suddenly shared a rough outline of what was in his 2005 federal tax return:
Before being elected president, Mr. Trump was one of the most successful businessmen in the world with a responsibility to his company, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required. That being said, Mr. Trump paid $38 million even after taking into account large-scale depreciation for construction, on an income of more than $150 million, as well as paying tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes, and this illegally published return proves just that. Despite this substantial income figure and tax paid, it is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns. The dishonest media can continue to make this part of their agenda, while the president will focus on his, which includes tax reform that will benefit all Americans.
The trigger? Journalist David Cay Johnston received a copy of Trump’s return from that year and was about to share it on MSNBC.
In addition to sort of undercutting the president’s argument he wouldn’t release his returns, some journalists who cover Trump zeroed in on the word “totally” in the news release — an unusual word for such a formal setting, and perhaps a suggestion Trump played a big role in the wording of this statement.
Trump wrote part of this statement. “Totally” is the tell https://t.co/sb6kCvV8KA
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) March 15, 2017
4) That time they released a list of 78 “under-reported” terrorist attacks
About a month ago, President Trump accused the media of not reporting terrorist attacks. The insinuation being we have our “reasons” for ignoring them.
To which we said: What terrorist attacks did we miss? The press office quickly spit out a list of 78 “under-reported” attacks.
Of the first 25 on the list, The Washington Post’s Philip Bump counted only four that had resulted in more than one death. In many of them, a total of zero people died. And in almost all of them, there was press coverage — contradicting the president’s claim the media ignores these.
5) That time they misspelled “attacker” on their “under-reported” terrorist attacks
That same release of 78 terrorist attacks misspelled “attacker” repeatedly as “attaker,” prompting a shout out from Merriam-Webster:
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) February 7, 2017
More seriously, the release had some incorrect information, Bump points out, like stating multiple people were involved in a November attack at Ohio State University. (Police said one man drove his car into a crowd.)
We get it — misspellings happen. President Obama’s press office misspelled President Ronald Reagan twice in a release in 2014.
But two months into this administration, we’re no longer surprised when there’s a misspelling of a major name — unless it results in a mix-up with a porn star. There are already enough gaffes from the White House Press Office to fill a listicle, and Friday’s parody account mix-up tops the list.
(Petri’s article has since been removed from the online version of the newsletter.)