Leadership

Covfefe kerfuffle: Trump's fancy keyboard antics couldn't have come at a worse time

President Donald Trump's fancy fingering in a post-midnight — and now deleted — tweet has stirred up a kerfuffle.

Those who saw the presidential tweet at 12:06 a.m. ET Wednesday say it began: "Despite the constant negative press covfefe ..." About six hours later, the tweet was deleted, and the link says:

At 6:09 a.m., Trump joked about it.

That came too late to dodge a Twitter storm. Late Wednesday morning, #covfefe was still the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter.

Merriam-Webster was urged to explain in the early hours of the day.

Of course, it was not the first presidential typo in a tweet. Perhaps the most infamous one was in early March, when Trump raised unsubstantiated allegations that President Barack Obama had tapped his phones during the election campaign.

Then there was this deleted tweet from Inauguration Day:

"I am honered to serve you, the great American People, as your 45th President of the United States!"

And there was the not-to-be forgotten "unpresidented" act by China after it captured an unmanned U.S. Navy research drone in December.

But a scan of @realDonaldTrump posts during the merry month of May finds no misspellings other than "covfefe." For example, he spelled Colombia correctly after an Oval Office meeting with the South American country's president.

He also didn't botch the spelling of the name of Georgia's prime minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili.

He even correctly observed the grammatical rules for its/it's in this tweet.

And no grievances about the "i-before-e rule" here.

Still, the kerfuffle over covfefe couldn't have come at a worse time for the 70-year-old president. In suburban Maryland, 10 miles from the White House, the two-day finals of the 90th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee got underway on Wednesday. The winner on Thursday gets $40,000 in cash and a $2,500 U.S. savings bond. The youngest contestant is Edith Fuller, age 6.

Last year's winning words were Feldenkrais, spelled correctly by
13-year-old Jairam Hathwar, and gesellschaft, nailed by 13-year-old Nihar Janga. Can you spell them, Mr. President?

— Marty Steinberg is the copy desk chief at CNBC.com and writes a periodic in-house style memo called "The Style Stickler."