Fiddling as Rome Burns: White House Chimes in on Laurel vs Yanny

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Trial, white house, Donald Trump

I’m sure you’ve heard the controversy surrounding the “Laurel vs Yanny” recording (which has, objectively, been deemed a victory for team Laurel). What you may not have seen was the White House’s official response (this is 100%, unadulteratedly real!)

This 45-second clip is the perfect metaphor for our perilous state of mind in the US. An irrelevant, scientifically straightforward novelty goes viral and sweeps our culture by storm, receiving far more coverage than riots in Israel, threats of nuclear war, and a ballooning national debt. Then, to add insult to injury, the White House, the primary institution that is tasked with solving the aforementioned real controversies because it helped to create them, decided to weigh in on the matter.

The video response itself is equally appalling, constituting a new low for an administration that has already hit rock bottom when it comes to PR. In it, senior White House staffers are asked their opinions on the controversy. The responses are all too real to be comical. Kellyanne Conway offers to “deflect and divert” from the truth, while Sarah Huckabee-Sanders brings up CNN, out of the blue, to accuse them of some imagined misrepresentation in a characteristic fit of paranoia. Ivanka and Mike Pence, ever the tacticians, avoid saying anything vexing. Jared is not available because he, presumably, is busy hashing out the final steps in his Middle Eastern peace deal, which has been on the horizon for over a year now. Finally, the video concludes with President Trump himself saying he hears “covfefe” instead of Laurel or Yanny, thus embracing his incompetence at spelling and hearing.

Humor is a difficult concept to define (and, if you’re Donald Trump, to even comprehend). For this reason, memes like Laurel vs. Yanny sweep the internet, only to fizzle out and die days later. However, most would agree that a fundamental element of humor is something unexpected, unrealistic or over-exaggerated. What makes this attempt at humor so depressing is that everything said was entirely realistic: the distorters of truth plainly and openly admitted to their manipulations, and a uniquely incompetent president revealed his true colors once more. This downright disaster at appealing to the youth, by an administration light-years removed from a semblance of popularity, is certain to kill a viral meme– the question remains whether it will kill us all in the process.

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Adam Barsouk

Adam Barsouk is a student of medicine and health policy at Jefferson Medical College and a cancer researcher at the University of Pittsburgh. His family’s escape from the Soviet Union, and his experiences in the lab and the clinic, have inspired him to restore liberty to healthcare and the other depraved sectors of American life.