The Laurel vs. Yanny debate, which has sharply divided the American public this week, reached the highest levels of government on Thursday.
And like the rest of the country, they were divided.
The debate in question refers to an audio clip that was posted on Reddit, Instagram and other sites by high school students who said they found it on a vocabulary website. In it, a man can be heard pronouncing a single word that some say is most definitely “Laurel” and others hear clearly as “Yanny.”
“So clearly Laurel,” said Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a senior adviser, leading off the video with her verdict.
Mercedes Schlapp, the White House’s director of strategic communications, disagreed. “Yanny’s the winner,” she said. “Laurel’s the loser.”
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, turned their responses into self-referential quips. Conway, who has been criticized for presenting “alternative facts” on behalf of the president, said she heard Laurel. “But I could deflect and divert to Yanny if you need me to,” she added.
Answering a question about whether she heard Laurel, Sanders inserted one of President Trump’s favored talking points. “Clearly you’re getting your information from CNN because that’s fake news,” she said. “All I hear is Yanny.”
Pence, as if out of the loop, asked simply, “Who’s Yanny?”
Trump did not quite answer the question at hand, and instead referred to his most famous misspelling on Twitter.
“I hear covfefe,” he said.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.