Yanny Versus Laurel: Trump and the White House Staff Weigh In on Viral Controversy


Amid reports of turmoil inside the West Wing, several senior Trump administration staffers joined forces to offer a White House perspective on the latest viral internet debate.

As multiple social media posts and news reports have discussed in recent days, a short audio clip has seemingly confused listeners who cannot agree on what the speaker is saying. The controversy over whether the sound is “Laurel” or “Yanny” has sparked intense speculation, even within the Oval Office.

In the clip released by the White House this week, some familiar faces from the administration went on the record with their take on the clip.

“So clearly ‘Laurel,'” Ivanka Trump declared.

Several others agreed while a few were adamant in their allegiance to Team Yanny.

Missing 17-Year-Old Girl Found Dead After 'Devastating, Mind-Blowing' Discovery Next Door Brings Months-Long Search to an End

Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said she thought the clip sounded like “Laurel,” though she was far less committed than some of her colleagues. Referencing criticism that she frequently vacillates or attempts to duck questions during interviews, she joked that she could be convinced to change her mind.

“It’s ‘Laurel,'” she said. “But I could deflect and divert to ‘Yanny’ if you need me to.”

As is the case in many White House social media posts, there was also a direct attack on the legitimacy of CNN. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders sarcastically blamed the cable news outlet for stoking division on the issue.

When asked about supposed reports that she heard “Laurel” in the clip, Sanders dismissed them.

Was this video an effective use of social media?

“Clearly, you’re getting your information from CNN because that’s fake news,” she said. “All I hear is ‘Yanny.'”

The cameraman played the clip for Vice President Mike Pence, who feigned surprise.

“Who’s Yanny?” he asked.

President Donald Trump, who shared the clip on his Twitter profile, ended the video with his own stance.

“I hear ‘covfefe,'” he said.

Top Ramaswamy Staffer Quits to Join Trump Campaign

The answer referenced an infamous typographical error in a tweet he posted in 2017.

Nearly a year ago, Trump sparked widespread mockery with an unintelligible overnight social media post that remained on his profile for hours before finally being deleted and replaced.

“Despite the negative press covfefe,” he tweeted at the time.

Reaction to the video, like most facets of the Trump administration, was fiercely divided.

Numerous critics on Facebook and Twitter suggested the video was a waste of White House time and resources. Others pointed to the Obama administration’s efforts to connect through popular culture and social media as evidence that the video is appropriate and potentially beneficial.

One apparent Trump detractor acknowledged that even he felt the release of this video was effective.

“Ok I’m a progressive and even I got a kick out of that,” the Facebook user wrote. “It’s not often this administration shows their lighter side.”

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , ,
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism - Averett University
Professional Memberships
Online News Association
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment