The White House has weighed into the “Laurel or Yanny” debate, with social media users saying the administration has now officially killed the meme.
In a video posted on Twitter, Donald Trump and various officials are asked whether they hear the word Laurel or Yanny in an audio “illusion”, which first appeared on Reddit, and has been the subject of intense debate this week.
The rare attempt at humour was criticised by social media users for making jokes about lying to the media and killing the fun.
The video begins with the US president’s daughter, Ivanka, and a senior adviser, who said the word was “so clearly Laurel”, before laughing to people out of shot.
Vice-president Mike Pence later appears looking bemused and asks: “Who’s Yanny?”
The press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and White House aide Kellyanne Conway both allude to their reputations for deception under media questioning.
Sanders is told by a voice off camera that there are reports she heard the word Laurel. She responds: “Clearly you’re getting your information from CNN because that’s fake news. All I hear is Yanny.”
Conway – who defended the former press secretary Sean Spicer when he was accused of lying by saying he was presenting “alternative facts” – says she heard Laurel. “But I could deflect and divert to Yanny if you need me to.”
Towards the end of the 45-second video, Trump appears with the punchline. Sitting at his desk in the Oval Office, he said: “I hear covfefe” in reference to the famous misspelling he published on Twitter last year.
Earlier, a tweet by the US Air Force linked the meme to the killing of Taliban militants in Afghanistan. The tweet was subsequently deleted and an apology issued.
“We apologise for the earlier tweet regarding the A-10. It was made in poor taste and we are addressing it internally. It has since been removed,” a statement said.