Covfefe, Little Rocket Man and ‘stable genius’: A year of Trumpisms
January 2017: 'You are fake news'
Trump had famously sparred with the media throughout his campaign. He reserved his ire for BuzzFeed and CNN, however, at his January 11, 2017 press conference, shortly after CNN promoted and BuzzFeed published the notorious “Steele dossier” making all sorts of salacious allegations about his “Russian” connections.
Calling BuzzFeed “a failing pile of garbage” and CNN “disgraceful,” Trump refused to take a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta:
February: ‘Enemy of the people’
Trump continued to hammer the media outlets hostile to him, singling out the New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS and CNN in a February 17 tweet:
Responding to the howls of outrage, Trump clarified that he is not against all media. “I am against only the fake news media… I’m against the people who make up sources and make up stories,”Trump said at CPAC on February 24.
March: ‘Wires tapped’
On March 4, Trump sent out a tweet that launched a thousand fact-checks:
The former president and his officials insisted that this was not true, as did most of the news media. By September, however, none other than CNN was reporting that the FBI had secured a secret court warrant to spy on Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort “before and after the election.” Oops.
April: ‘Beautiful babies’
On April 7, blaming the Syrian government for an alleged chemical attack on rebel-held Khan Sheikhoun in the Idlib province, Trump ordered a cruise missile strike against a government airbase.
Trump also invoked “innocent children – innocent babies” supposedly killed in the attack on April 5, at a press conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah at the White House.
The cryptic six-word tweet popped up late on May 30 and gained over 100,000 shares and likes before getting deleted by Trump himself, plunging Twitter into a frenzy of speculation.
There were many theories about the meaning of the tweet, most likely being that Trump started to say something about negative press coverage. Trump himself never explained it, later tweeting, "Who can figure out the true meaning of "covfefe" ??? Enjoy!"
The entire episode inspired Representative Mike Quigley (D-Illinois) to sponsor the “Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement” (COVFEFE) Act, which would archive Trump’s private tweets as official statements under the Presidential Records Act.
June: ‘Witch hunt’
As the “Russian collusion” investigations in Congress failed to reveal any actual evidence, the president’s critics seized upon his firing of FBI Director James Comey as proof he was somehow obstructing justice.
Trump said during a June 16 tweetstorm. He used the phrase “witch hunt” in another tweet as well.
August: ‘Alt left’ and ‘both sides’
President Trump’s comments about the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia attracted much controversy, partly due to what he actually said and partly due to the manner in which it was reported.
Trump said on August 13, after reports of Antifa-led counter-protesters clashing with Unite the Right white nationalists.
The “many sides” part caused outrage in the media and among the president’s critics, who insisted there was only one side deserving of condemnation. Though Trump unequivocally condemned racism, hatred and bigotry on August 14, he was asked about it again the following day.
“I think there’s blame on both sides. I have no doubt about it, and you have no doubt about it either,”the president responded. “What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?”
August: ‘Fire and Fury’
The phrase sparked memes and outrage aplenty, with some critics even believing Trump had taken the phrase from a Captain America villain - for the record, he did not - while others were convinced he was inspired by the previous night’s episode of 'Game of Thrones.'
“Fire and fury” became so associated with Trump that it was appropriated for the title of a tell-all book about the White House staff, written by Michael Wolff and published in January.
September: ‘(Little) Rocket Man’
Trump first used the Elton John-inspired nickname for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un on September 17, following a call with the president of South Korea. He repeated the phrase two days later in his first address to the UN General Assembly. Then, on September 22, he added a new twist to Kim’s nickname at a rally in Alabama:
Kim has responded by dubbing Trump a “mentally deranged US dotard,” to the glee of many US journalists.
“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me 'old,' when I would NEVER call him 'short and fat?” Trump replied on November 11, while visiting Vietnam as part of his Asia tour.
October: ‘Watergate of the modern age’
On his way to Texas to tour the areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey, Trump held a whirlwind press conference touching on a variety of topics. Among them was Uranium One, the deal approved by the Obama administration to sell US uranium mines to a Russian-owned company.
Trump has maintained that the Uranium One deal is the only actual “collusion with Russians” in existence.
November: ‘Haters and fools’
Accusations that his campaign somehow “colluded with Russia” to win the 2016 election have meant that any attempt by Trump to develop better relations with Moscow was denounced by US mainstream media as treason.
Trump tweeted on November 11, after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin at the APEC summit in Vietnam. Russia can “greatly help” in solving the problems like North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, and terrorism, the president added.
December: ‘Sexist smear’?
After several lawmakers were pressured to resign in the wake of sexual misconduct claims, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) called for the president himself to resign. Trump fired back, calling her a “lightweight” and “total flunky” for the Senate Democrats’ leadership:
Gillibrand called Trump’s tweet a “sexist smear,” and her colleague Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) accused Trump of “slut-shaming.”
“There’s no way this is sexist at all,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters who asked about it. “Your mind is in the gutter if you’ve read it that way.”
January 2018: ‘Very stable genius’
Following the publication of Michael Wolff’s ‘Fire and Fury,’ Trump unleashed a barrage of tweets ridiculing the suggestions from the book that he was “semi-literate” and mentally unfit for office.
“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” the president tweeted on January 6. “I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star… to President of the United States (on my first try).”
The phrase “very stable genius” predictably drew ridicule on social media, joining the growing list of Trumpisms.