President Trump has been called a lot of things in his day, but Wednesday marks the first time any member of his administration has linked him with a beloved dairy product. In a slip-up she most definitely realized right after, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway called Trump the "Commander of Cheese."
Conway's stumble came during an interview on CNN's New Day, in remarks about Trump's decision to rescind his White House invitation from Super Bowl winners the Philadelphia Eagles. Host John Berman asked Conway to clarify whether or not Trump has indeed, in recent days (and tweets), been demanding that NFL players express their patriotism. Conway replied:
And the problem with that is what, just so we're clear? And the problem with the president of the United States, and the commander in cheese — Chief — expressing that opinion is exactly what?
Berman didn't comment on the cheese flub, but lots of people on Twitter did. Tommy Christopher, a writer for Share Blue media, posted a 7-second clip of the "commander-of-cheese" gaffe and commented "I am literally dead now." Bill Kuchman of Politico tweeted: "Even Mayor McCheese has to report to someone." Ken Olin, a producer of This Is Us, quipped that Trump "did win Wisconsin."
This is by no means Conway's first public flub. All credit for the Orwellian euphemism "alternative facts" goes to Conway, who invented the obfuscating term to explain why Trump insisted his inauguration crowd sizes were the biggest ever — despite hard evidence to the contrary. She is also responsible for referring to the "Bowling Green Massacre," an event that never actually happened, but whose theoretical tenets helped defend Trump's attempt to ban international visitors from several Muslim-majority nations.
In Conway's telling, two Iraqi refugees came to the United States, then left to train overseas with ISIS, then came back to America and used their "mastermind" terrorist knowledge to kill military servicemen in Bowling Green, Kentucky. But next to none of that is accurate. Two former terrorists from Iraq were arrested in 2013 in Kentucky by the FBI and sentenced to 40 years in prison. The charges against them included the use of IEDs (improvised explosive device) against American soldiers in Iraq and attempting to send funds and weapons to Al Qaeda. Notably, the facts of the case in no way resemble anything like a "massacre" or any violence whatsoever that actually occurred — or was even attempted — in Bowling Green.
And in March of 2017, Conway insinuated that nefarious parties could be spying on unsuspecting surveillance targets through their TVs — or even, their microwaves. In an interview with the Bergen Record, Conway referenced an unnamed article that she said claimed "you can surveil someone through their phones, through their—certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways." She then specified "microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera. So we know that that is just a fact of modern life." According to Lily Hay Newman at Wired, and the many experts she asked to weigh in on the topic of microwave spy transformations, it isn't a "fact" of anyone's life.
Conway has sometimes seemed to revel playing the role of thorn in CNN's side. She and former New Day host Chris Cuomo got into a series of hilarious and absurd spats about everything from grammatical confusion to kumquats. CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta tweeted on Tuesday that Conway "tried to take a video of me tweeting while folks were singing God Bless America. I guess she wanted to accuse me of being unpatriotic. But she also stopped singing too... to try to record me. So strange."
Even Conway's detractors have reluctantly credited her campaign smarts for running Trump's presidential bid to Election Day victory. But her "commander in cheese" gaffe proves even a seasoned DC veteran can make a basic mistake of pronunciation.