The already pretty awkward relationship between America’s head of state and one of its largest companies got a little more awkward on Wednesday, when the silver-tongued President flubbed Apple CEO Tim Cook’s name by calling him “Tim Apple.” You can catch the excruciating moment in all of its glory in the four second clip below, pulled from the White House’s official YouTube page.
Fortunately, this is not the first time the President has hilariously and ignominiously embarrassed one of America’s captains of industry while the cameras were rolling. As the Verge’s Sean O’Kane pointed out, Trump repeated the same exact malapropism with Lockheed Martin’s CEO, calling her ‘Marillyn Lockheed’ instead of Marillyn Hewson. The proper spelling of U.K Prime Minister Theresa May’s name, the correct abbreviation for Customs and Border Patrol, and the pronunciation of the word “anonymous” also seem to regularly give the president trouble.
In Trump’s defense, it’s hardly his most cringeworthy gaffe of the last few weeks (that honor has to go to a Prayer Breakfast speech last month — Black History Month — where he celebrated “the abolition of Civil Rights”). And it is fun to imagine Tim Cook having to correct him.
But on the other hand, it seems fair to wonder whether the President’s failure to retain the names of the country’s most powerful companies should really be seen as all that much of a bad thing.
After all, in an era where tech CEO’s have been known to start cults and blackmail cities for their municipal data, shouldn’t they be reminded every once in a while that there actually are people who are more important than them? Was the President, perhaps, engaging in some very subtle negging to remind Cook that companies must abide by the government’s laws and not the other way around?
Given Trump’s long record of mis-statements, it seems like wishful thinking to assume there was anything more at play in the “Tim Apple” story beyond the President’s notorious inattention to detail. But it’s still nice to dream.