Trade Deal Signing Turns Hilarious as Closed Captioning Goes Sideways

Trump refers to Xi as his “furry” friend and Vice Premier Liu He says the Space One trade deal will benefit our balls

Today US President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier and chief trade negotiator Liu He signed a Phase One negotiation agreement that will hopefully smooth the path toward a new US-China trade deal. Trump took the stage for one hour and delivered a predictably off-script word salad.

But the real entertainment was in the closed captioning. Apparently a few things were lost in translation.

Da fuq?

Trump refers to Xi as his “furry friend”

I’m not sure anyone could live-caption Trump accurately. He slurs words, mispronounces names, never finishes a sentence, and goes off on rambling drunk-uncle rants that make no sense.

At one point, Trump complained at length that in Germany “they” can borrow money and “get paid for it” because they have negative interest rates. Of course, that’s not even remotely how it works. But we all know by now that Trump’s grip on basic economics could be outstripped by a third-grader.

Meanwhile, I was doing a live Facebook feed of the speech highlights and got completely distracted by the dynamic between the captioner and the actual delivery …

The captions were all over the place. I’ve done captioning and I know it’s really, really hard — especially when doing it live. But this captioner couldn’t spell any of the principals’ names correctly, was taking words out of context, and trying to include all the junk words. Trump spews so much junk (a technical term referring to unnecessary words, pauses, grunts, repetitions) that they were losing what little logic was left in Trump’s disjointed on/off-script delivery. If the captioner had just relaxed and toothpicked out the few words and phrases that made sense, they would have had an easier time of it.

Also, the White House should have provided a transcript of the teleprompter speech to media and captioners so it could have been typed up with appropriate breaks beforehand. Clearly that was not done; the captioner was even struggling with teleprompter text (as delivered by Trump).

Several times Trump referred to US trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer as “Bob lighthouses”. On this one, I give captions a C-, since Trump was trying to say it correctly but kept slurring it into a contraction, so it really does sound like “Bob Lighthouses”.

Instead of gaslighting, the US now has ‘lighthousing’.

Vice Premier to Trump: “Run your mouth only …”

Things took a wickedly funny turn when the captioner attempted to translate and caption Liu He’s comments as he read a letter to the US from President Xi, instead of just waiting for the translator.

Opening remarks …

[wild applause from America]

On to the serious stuff …

We all agree Trump will not be winning a Father of the Year award.
We’ve warned him. He doesn’t listen.
Glad you are enjoying your trip, Vice Premier!
Man, those Trump trade deals are tough. No pony!
Sorry, we have no clue what he’s going to do next.
BREAKING: Donuts To Go is in the treaty!
Please don’t encourage him.
Hey you’se guys! In China, we also speak Queens!
You like my flags? Me too. I hug them, sometimes.
Rambo: Last Blood?
Space One Trade Deal!

The desperate hand off

Someone is attempting live captioning of world leaders from a phone?

Toward the middle of the vice premier’s presentation, it became apparent that two captioners were desperately attempting to switch places.

Unfortunately, their texts or messages were showing up on the screen as live captions, which only added to the confusion and hilarity.

I think this means, “Can’t do that language here. Don’t tell Molly.”

The hand off appears to be imminent here.

Captioners are going to soccer pass!

Font size was good, though

Well at least there’s that. The visuals were great!

Freelance writer. Conservative-leaning, mostly moderate Independent. Libra. Loves good food and wine.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store