Category Archives: Television Archive

TV News Record: The year in TV news visualizations

Thanks for being part of our community at the TV News Archive. As 2017 draws to a close, we’ve chosen six of our favorite visualizations using TV News Archive data. We look forward to assisting many more journalists and researchers in what will likely be an even more tumultuous news year. 

The New York Times: Mueller indictments

The New York Times editorial page used our Third Eye chyron collection to produce an analysis of TV news coverage of major indictments of Trump campaign officials by special counsel Robert Mueller: “The way each network covered the story – or avoided it – is a sign of how the media landscape has become ever more politicized in the Trump era. ”

credit: Taylor Adams, Jessia Ma, and Stuart A. Thompson, The New York Times, “Trump Loves Fox & Friends,” November 1, 2017.

FiveThirtyEight: hurricane coverage

Writing for FiveThirtyEight.com, Dhrumil Mehta demonstrated that TV news broadcasters paid less attention to Puerto Rico’s hurricane Maria than to hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which hit mainland U.S. primarily in Texas and Florida. Mehta used TV News Archive data via Television Explorer.

credit: Dhrumil Mehta, “The Media Really Has Neglected Puerto Rico,” FiveThirtyEight, September 28, 2017.

TV News Archive: face-time for lawmakers

Using our Face-o-Matic data set, we found that Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky., gets the most face-time on cable TV news, and MSNBC features his visage more than the other networks examined. Fox News features the face of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., more than any other cable network.

Vox:  Mueller’s credibility

Vox’s Alvin Chang used Television Explorer to explore how Fox News reports on Mueller’s credibility. This included showing how often Fox news mentioned Mueller in the context of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Alvin Chang, “A week of Fox News transcripts shows how they began questioning Mueller’s credibility,” Vox, October 31, 2017.

The Trace: coverage of shootings

Writing for The Trace, Jennifer Mascia presented findings from Television Explorer showing how coverage of shootings declines rapidly: “Two days after 26 people were massacred in a Texas church, the incident — one of the worst mass shootings in American history — had nearly vanished from the major cable news networks.”

Credit: Jennifer Mascia, “Data Shows Shrinking Cable News Cycles for This Fall’s Mass Shootings,” The Trace, December 5, 2017.

The Washington Post: What TV news networks covered in 2017

Philip Bump of The Washington Post crunched Television Explorer data to look at coverage of eleven major news stories by five national news networks. Here’s his visualization of TV news coverage of “sexual assault,” which shows how coverage increased at the end of the year as dozens of prominent men in media, politics, and entertainment were accused of sexual harassment or assault.

Philip Bump, “What national news networks were talking about during 2017, The Washington Post, December 15, 2017.

Follow us @tvnewsarchive, and subscribe to our biweekly newsletter here.

TV News Record: Face-o-Matic on Trump, McConnell, and Pelosi; PolitiFact picks “2017 Lie of the Year”

A biweekly round up on what’s happening at the TV News Archive by Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman.

This week we take a dive into nearly six months of Face-o-Matic facial recognition data. We also display the news clips behind PolitiFact’s top picks for lies and misstatements of the year, most of them seen and heard on TV news.

Face-o-Matic reveals cable news persistent patterns

With nearly six-months of data available, we’re finding certain persistent patterns on how cable networks make editorial choices in displaying the faces of President Donald Trump and top congressional leaders on TV screens.

First, Trump trumps the congressional leaders for on-screen face time, by many degrees of magnitude.

 

Second, of the four congressional leaders, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky., gets the most face-time on TV, and MSNBC features his visage more than the other networks examined. Fox News features the face of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif. more than any other cable network.

Face-o-Matic, an experimental service, developed in collaboration with the start-up Matroid, tracks the faces of selected high level elected officials on major TV cable news channels: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC.  Face-o-Matic data is available to the media, researchers, and the public, updated daily here. Stay tuned: we are in the process of testing new faces to add to Face-o-Matic: living past presidents and recent major political party nominees.

PolitiFact announces “2017 Lie of the Year”

Our fact-checking partner PolitiFact has announced its annual Lie of the Year: President Donald Trump’s statement in May 2017 to NBC’s Lester Holt, “This Russia thing…is a made-up story.” Below is the interview on the Internet Archive’s TV News Archive.

Writes PolitiFact editor, Angie Drobnic Holan:

In both classified and public reports, U.S. intelligence agencies have said Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered actions to interfere with the election. Those actions included the cyber-theft of private data, the placement of propaganda against particular candidates, and an overall effort to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process.

Trump’s statement about Russia was both the PolitiFact’s editors pick for Lie of the Year, and the top one chosen by PolitiFact’s readers in an online poll by “an overwhelming margin.” Readers also called out other fact-checks to highlight for the year, choosing from a list of ten from the editors, or writing in their own nominations.

The top vote-getter after Trump’s statement on Russia was Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador’s claim that “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.” “While the exact number of deaths saved by having health insurance is uncertain, the researchers we contacted agreed that the number is higher than zero–probably quite a bit higher,” writes PolitiFact reporter Louis Jacobson, who rated the claim “Pants on Fire.”

In third place was Sean Spicer’s claim, “that was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period,” referring to the presidential inauguration in January 2017. PolitiFact at the time rated that claim “Pants on Fire”: “Spicer suggested 720,000 attended Trump’s inauguration, while organizers said they expected 700,000 to 900,000, and Trump himself estimated 1.5 million. All of those figures are less than the 1.8 million people who attended Obama’s 2009 inaugural.”

To see more video of fact-checks chosen by PolitiFact’s readers and editors as lies or misstatements of the year, see this list, which includes links both to TV news clips of public officals making statements on the air, along with links to fact-checks of those statements.

Follow us @tvnewsarchive, and subscribe to our biweekly newsletter here.

 

 

TV News Record: Coverage of sexual harassment charges

A biweekly round up on what’s happening at the TV News Archive by Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman.

This week we dive into research resources, fact-checks, and backgrounders on the sexual harassment charges sweeping the worlds of media, politics, and entertainment.

Past TV news appearances by O’Reilly, Franken, Halperin & more preserved, searchable

The names of well-known and influential men accused of sexual harassment continue to pile up: Louis C.K.; Rep. John Conyers, D., Mich.; Sen. Al Franken, D., Minn.; Mark Halperin of ABC; Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame; NBC’s Matt Lauer, Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore; Fox’s Bill O’Reilly; Charlie Rose of CBS and PBS; Leon Wieseltier, formerly of The New Republic; Harvey Weinstein, and of course the president himself, Donald Trump.

Some of these men made their living on TV and all of them have many TV appearances preserved in the TV News Archive. These include, for example, clips making the rounds in this week’s stories about Lauer’s television history: this one where NBC staff did a fake joke story about Lauer himself being harassed by a colleague; and this interview with the actress Anne Hathaway after a photographer took a photo up her skirt and a tabloid printed it.

We’ve also got this September 2017  interview Lauer did of Bill O’Reilly, in which he asks the former Fox News host: “Have you done some soul searching? Have you done some self-reflection and have you looked at the way you treated women that you think now or think about differently now than you did at the time?” O’Reilly answers, “My conscience is clear.”


TV news use of term “sexual harassment” peaked in 2011

Mentions of term “sexual harassment” since 2009 on cableTV news shows, source: Television Explorer search of TV News Archive caption data

Cable TV news programs mentions of the term “sexual harassment” are picking up, but not yet at the level they were back in November 2011, according to a search of TV News Archive caption data via Television Explorer. What was big news then? Accusations of sexual harassment against then presidential candidate Herman Cain, who the following month dropped out of the 2012 race. Cain was back on TV this week, in an interview on the current claims of sexual harassment against powerful men, on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle.

Cain says: “Now, what’s different about my situation, and let’s just say Roy Moore’s situation, is that they came after me with repeatedly attacks and accusations, but no confirmation. They now believe that if they throw more and more and more mud on the wall, that eventually people are going to believe it. But that has backfired because, as you know, the latest poll shows Roy Moore is now back in the lead in Alabama, and the people in Alabama are going to have to decide.”


Fact-checks and backgrounders on sexual harassment charges

Our fact-checking partners have produced numerous fact-checks and background pieces on sexual harassment charges and statements.

“How politicians react to such charges often appears to reflect who is being accused. Democrats are quick to jump on allegations about Republicans — and vice versa. But the bets start to get hedged when someone in the same party falls under scrutiny,” writes Meg Kelly for The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker.

For example, here’s House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D. Calif., on “Meet the Press” in 1998, defending then-President Bill Clinton. At the time, Pelosi said, referring to the investigation by Ken Starr into allegations against Clinton: “The women of America are just like other Americans, in that they value fairness, they value privacy, and do not want to see a person with uncontrolled power, uncontrolled time, uncontrolled – unlimited money investigating the president of the United States.”

And here’s President Donald Trump on the White House south lawn, defending GOP Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore: “Roy Moore denies this. That’s all I can say. And by the way, he totally denies it.”

Kelly also wrote a round-up of sexual harassment charges against the president himself: “During the second presidential debate, Anderson Cooper asked then-candidate Trump point blank whether he had “actually kiss[ed] women without consent or grope[d] women without consent?” Trump asserted that “nobody has more respect for women” and Cooper pushed him, asking, “Have you ever done those things?” Trump denied that he had, responding: “No, I have not.”…But it’s not as simple as that. Many of the women have produced witnesses who say they heard about these incidents when they happened — long before Trump’s political aspirations were known. Three have produced at least two witnesses.”

In another piece, Glenn Kessler, editor of The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, writes  in a round up of corroborators, “Such contemporaneous accounts are essential to establishing the credibility of the allegation because they reduce the chances that a person is making up a story for political purposes. In the case of sexual allegations, such accounts can help bolster the credibility of the “she said” side of the equation.” One of the statements of denial he quotes is this one from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who says when asked if all of the accusers are lying: “Yeah, we’ve been clear on that from the beginning, and the president’s spoken on it.”


Here’s FactCheck.org’s Eugene Kiely on Sen. Tim Kaine, D., Va., and his claim that the Clinton campaign can’t give back contributions from Harry Weinstein: “Asked if the Clinton-Kaine campaign will return contributions it received from movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, Sen. Tim Kaine repeatedly said the campaign is over. That’s true, but it doesn’t mean the campaign can’t refund donations.” FactCheck.org deemed this claim “misleading.”

Follow us @tvnewsarchive, and subscribe to our biweekly newsletter here.

TV News Record: Whoops, they said it again (on taxes)

A biweekly round up on what’s happening at the TV News Archive by Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman

This week, we demonstrate GOP and Democrat talking points on taxes; display a case of mistaken facial identity; and present fact checks on the GOP tax proposal.

Whoops, they said it again

Was that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., who said “tax cuts for the rich”? Or was that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y.? Wait: they both said it. Often.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wis., keeps talking about tax reform being a “once in a generation opportunity,” and, coincidence!, so does Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky. It’s a recurring theme.

These types of repeated phrases, often vetted via communication staff, are known as “talking points,” and it’s the way politicians, lobbyists, and other denizens of the nation’s capital sell policy. The TV News Archive is working toward the goal of applying artificial intelligence (AI) to our free, online library of TV news to help ferret out talking points so we can better understand how political messages are crafted and disseminated.

For now, we don’t have an automated way to identify such repeated phrases from the thousands of hours of television news coverage. However, searching within our curated archives of top political leaders can provide a quick way to check for a phrase you think you’re hearing often. Visit archive.org/tv to find our Trump archive, executive branch archive, and congressional archives, click into an archive, then search for the phrase within that archive.

Sample search results in the congressional archive

Funny, you look familiar

Wait, is this former President George W. Bush trying out a new look?

No, it’s not. This is Bob Massi, a legal analyst for Fox Business News and host of “Bob Massi is the Property Man.”  In a test run of new faces for our Face-o-Matic facial detection tool, Massi’s uncanny resemblance (minus the hair) to the former president earned him a “false positive” – the algorithm identified this appearance as Bush incorrectly.

This doesn’t get us too worried, as we still include human testers and editors in our secret sauce: we’ll retrain our algorithm to disregard photos of Massi in the TV news stream. It does point toward why we want to be very careful, particularly with facial recognition, where a private individual may be tracked inadvertently or a public official misrepresented. Our concern about developing ethical practices with facial recognition is why, for the present, we are restricting our face-finding to elected officials. We invite discussion with the greater community about ethical practices in applying AI to the TV News Archive at tvnews@archive.org.

In our current Face-o-Matic set we track the faces of President Donald Trump and the four congressional leaders in their TV news appearances. After receiving feedback from journalists and researchers, our next set will include living ex-presidents and recent major presidential party nominees: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush,  Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. Stay tuned, while we fine tune our model.

Fact-check: everyone will get a tax cut (false)

In an interview on November 7, on Fox News’s new “The Ingraham Angle,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wis., says: “Everyone enjoys a tax cut all across the board.”

Pulling in information from the Tax Policy Center and a tax model created by the American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Post’s Fact Checker Glenn Kessler counters Ryan’s claim: “In the case of married families with children — whom Republicans are assiduously wooing as beneficiaries of their plan — about 40 percent are estimated to receive tax hikes by 2027, even if the provisions are retained.”

Ryan changed his language, according to Kessler, following an inquiry on November 8 from the Fact Checker. Now he is saying, “the average taxpayer in all income levels gets a tax cut.”

Fact-check: tax bill not being scored by CBO as is tradition (false)

In an interview on November 12 on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D., Ill., claimed that the GOP tax plan is “not being scored by the Congressional Budget Office, as it is traditionally. It’s because it doesn’t add up.”

“Under the most obvious interpretation of that statement, Durbin is incorrect. The nonpartisan analysis for tax bills is actually a task handled by the Joint Committee on Taxation, and the committee has been actively analyzing the Republican tax bills,” reported Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact.

Follow us @tvnewsarchive, and subscribe to our biweekly newsletter here.

TV News Record: With indictment, chyrons & captions get a graphic workout

A biweekly round up on what’s happening at the TV News Archive by Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman

Fox News downplayed Mueller indictment, according to NYT editorial chyron analysis

In the most intensive use the Internet Archive’s Third Eye data to date, The New York Times editorial page analyzed chyron data to show how Fox News downplayed this week’s news of the indictment of former Trump campaign manager and other legal developments. The graphic-heavy opinion piece was featured at the top of the online homepage much of the day on Wednesday, Nov. 1:

Though it is far from the only possible way to evaluate news coverage, the chyron has become something of a touchstone for media analysts, being both the most obvious visual example of spin or distraction and the most shareable. Any negative coverage of the president usually prompts a flurry of tweets cataloguing the differences among networks in their chyron text. While CNN, MSNBC and the BBC are typically in alignment, Monday morning was a particularly stark example of how Fox News pushes its own version of reality.

 Read The New York Times opinion piece, and dig into the data yourself.

Captions yield insights on Mueller investigation, shooting coverage

Fox News actively tried to “plant doubt in viewers’ minds” as Mueller brought charges against former Trump campaign officials, according to an analysis of a week’s worth of closed captions by Alvin Chang of Vox News. Chang used Television Explorer, fueled by TV News Archive data, to crunch the numbers behind charts such as the one below.

And The Trace, an independent, nonprofit news organization that focuses on gun violence, used TV News Archive caption data via Television Explorer to show how TV news coverage of mass shootings declines quickly.

Face-o-Matic captures congressional leaders reactions on indictments

In the 24 hours following news breaking about the indictments, our Face-o-Matic data feed captured cable news networks’ editorial choices on how much face-time to allot to congressional leaders’ reactions. The answer: not much.

All together the four congressional leaders’ faces were shown for a total of 2.5 minutes on indictment-related reporting on screen by CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. Ryan got the lion’s share of the attention. Much of this was devoted to airings of his photo in connection with his official statement,“[N]othing is going to derail what we are doing in Congress, because we are working on solving people’s problems.”

The image of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, K., Ky., was not featured by any network. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., got attention only from Fox News, which featured her photo with discussion of her statement, in which she said despite the news, “we still need an outside fully independent investigation.”


Fact-check:Papadopoulos had a limited role in Trump campaign (had seat at table/not the whole story)

One of the most parsed statements this week was White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ claim that George Papadopolous, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, had an “extremely limited” role in the campaign. “It was a volunteer position,” she said. “And again, no activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign.”

“Determining how important Papadopoulos was on the Trump team is open to interpretation, so we won’t put this argument to the Truth-O-Meter,” wrote Louis Jacobson, reporting for PolitiFact. Jacobson, however, laid out the known facts. For example, in March 2016, then presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted out a photo of himself and advisors sitting at a table, saying it was a “national security meeting.” Papadopoulos is seen at the table sitting near future Attorney General Jeff Sessions. However, Jacobson also writes,“There is some evidence to support the argument that Papadopoulos was freelancing by pushing the Russia connection.”

Reviewing Sanders’ claim, as well as a Trump tweet along similar lines, Robert Farley and Eugene Kiely took a similar tack for FactCheck.org, concluding that Papadopoulos had a “seat at the table” in the campaign, but it was beyond licking envelopes and posting lawn signs:  “What we do know is that during this time — from late March to mid-August — Papadopoulos was in regular contact with senior Trump campaign officials and attended a national security meeting with Trump. We will let readers decide if this constitutes a ‘low-level volunteer.'”


Embed TV News Archive clips on web annotations

Now you can embed TV News Archive news clips when commenting and annotating the web, thanks to a new integration from Hypothes.is. From the Hypothesis.is blog:

This integration makes it easy for journalists, fact-checkers, educators, scholars and anyone that wants to relate specific text in a webpage, PDF, or EPUB to a particular snippet of video news coverage. All you need to do to use it is copy the URL of a TV News Archive video page, paste it into the Hypothesis annotation editor and save your annotation. You can adjust the start and end of the video to include any exact snippet. The video will then automatically be available to view in your annotation alongside the annotated text.

See a live example of the integration in this annotation with an embedded news video of Senator Charles Schumer at a news conference over a post that checks the facts in one of his statements.

“This integration means that one of the world’s most valuable resources — the news that the Internet Archive captures across the world everyday — will be able to be brought into close context with pages and documents across the web,” said Hypothesis CEO Dan Whaley. “For instance, a video of a politician making an actual statement next to an excerpt that claims the opposite, or a video of a newsworthy event next to a deeper analysis of it.”

Please take Hypothes.is for a spin and let us know what you think: tvnews@archive.org.

Follow us @tvnewsarchive, and subscribe to our biweekly newsletter here.

TV News Record: Third Eye goes to Trump press conference

A weekly round up on what’s happening and what we’re seeing at the TV News Archive by Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman. Additional research by Robin Chin.

All three major U.S. cable news networks covered President Donald Trump’s impromptu press conference with Sen. Mitch McConnell, R., Ky., on Monday, October 16, but there were notable differences in their editorial choices for chyrons – the captions that appear in real-time on the bottom third of the screen – throughout the broadcast. We used the TV News Archive’s new Third Eye chryon extraction data tool to demonstrate these differences, similar to how The Washington Post examined FBI director James B. Comey’s hearing in June 2017.

The beauty of the Third Eye tool is you can do this too, any time there is breaking news or a widely covered live event, like yesterday’s Senate judiciary committee hearing where AG Jeff Sessions testified (7:31am-9:46am PT) or the October 5 White House briefing about Puerto Rico (11:20am-11:48am PT). Third Eye data – which includes chyrons from BBC News, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC – is available for data download, via API, in both raw and filtered formats. (Get into the weeds over on the Third Eye collection page.) Please take Third Eye for a spin, and let us know if you have questions: tvnews@archive.org or @tvnewsarchive.

For example, at 11:03 PT, Trump began answering a question about pharmaceutical companies “making money.” MSNBC chooses a chyron that characterizes Trump’s statements as a claim, whereas Fox News displays Trump’s assertion that Obamacare is a disaster. CNN goes with a chyron saying that Trump is “very happy” to end Obamacare subsidies.  In the following minute, 11:04, Fox News chooses other bold statements from Trump: “I do not need pharma money” and “I want tax reform this year.” CNN’s chyron instead says Trump “would like to see” tax reform, a less bold statement.

(Note: these are representative chryons from the minute period and did not necessarily display for the full 60-second period.)

Later in the press conference, the discussion turns to natural disasters before then focusing on the proposed wall on the border with Mexico. Again, Fox News features Trump making bold, simple assertions: “we are getting high marks for our hurricane response,” and “PR was in bad shape before the storm hit.” MSNBC instead uses the word “claims”: “Trump claims Puerto Rico now has more generators than any place in the world.”

Watch the Trump-McConnell press conference in context on C-Span.

Fact-check: Sen. McCaskill not present for bill to weaken DEA (four Pinocchios)

The day following The Washington Post-60 Minutes report on legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama to weaken the authority of the Drug Enforcement Agency, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D., Mo., called for repeal of the law. In an interview, she also said, “Now, I did not go along with this. I wasn’t here at the time. I was actually out getting breast cancer treatment. I don’t know that I would have objected. I like to believe I would have, but the bottom line is, once the DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] kind of, the upper levels at the DEA obviously said it was okay, that’s what gave it the green light.”

But “despite her claim that she ‘wasn’t here at the time,’ McCaskill was clearly back at the Senate, participating in votes and hearings,” according to The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker’s Glenn Kessler. “McCaskill’s staff acknowledged the error, saying that they had forgotten she had come back at that time. ‘It was sloppy on our part, and we take responsibility,’ a spokesman said.”


Fact-check: Pressure from Trump led to stepped up NATO members’ defense spending (half true)

In an interview on October 15, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “The president early on called upon NATO member countries to step up their contributions — step up their commitment to NATO, modernize their own forces… He’s been very clear, and as a result of that countries have stepped up contributions toward their own defense.”

PolitiFact reporter Allison Graves found that “25 NATO allies plan to increase spending in real terms in 2017.” And “according to NATO, over the last 3 years, European allies and Canada spent almost $46 billion more on defense, meaning increases in spending have occurred before Trump’s presidency. Experts said it’s possible that Trump’s pressure has contributed to the continuation of the upward trend, but Tillerson’s explanation glazes over the other factors that have led to increases, including the conflict in the Ukraine in 2014.”

Follow us @tvnewsarchive, and subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

History is happening, and we’re not just watching

  1. Which recent hurricane got the least amount of attention from TV news broadcasters?
    1. Irma
    2. Maria
    3. Harvey
  2. Thomas Jefferson said, “Government that governs least governs best.”
    1. True
    2. False
  3. Mitch McConnell shows up most on which cable TV news channel?
    1. CNN
    2. Fox News
    3. MSNBC

Answers at end of post.

The Internet Archive’s TV News Archive, our constantly growing online, free library of TV news broadcasts, contains 1.4 million shows, some dating back to 2009, searchable by closed captioning. History is happening, and we preserve how broadcast news filters it to us, the audience, whether it’s through CNN’s Jake Tapper, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow or others. This archive becomes a rich resource for journalists, academics, and the general public to explore the biases embedded in news coverage and to hold public officials accountable.

Last October we wrote how the Internet Archive’s TV News Archive was “hacking the election,” then 13 days away. In the year since, we’ve been applying our experience using machine learning to track political ads and TV news coverage in the 2016 elections to experiment with new collaborations and tools to create more ways to analyze the news.

Helping fact-checkers

Since we launched our Trump Archive in January 2017, and followed in August with the four congressional leaders, Democrat and Republican, as well as key executive branch figures, we’ve collected some 4,534 hours of curated programming and more than 1,300 fact-checks of material on subjects ranging from immigration to the environment to elections.

 

The 1,340 fact-checks–and counting–represent a subset of the work of partners FactCheck.orgPolitiFact and The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, as we link only to fact-checks that correspond to statements that appear on TV news. Most of the fact-checks–524–come from PolitiFact; 492 are by FactCheck.org, and 324 from The Washington Post’s Fact Checker.

We’re also proud to be part of the Duke Reporter’s Lab’s new Tech & Check collaborative, where we’re working with journalists and computer scientists to develop ways to automate parts of the fact-checking process.  For example, we’re creating processes to help identify important factual claims within TV news broadcasts to help guide fact-checkers where to concentrate their efforts. The initiative received $1.2 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Facebook Journalism Project and the Craig Newmark Foundation.

See the TrumpUS Congress, and executive branch archives and collected fact-checks.

TV News Kitchen

We’re collaborating with data scientists, private companies and nonprofit organizations, journalists, and others to cook up new experiments available in our TV News Kitchen, providing new ways to analyze TV news content and understand ourselves.

Dan Schultz, our senior creative technologist, worked with the start-up Matroid to develop Face-o-Matic, which tracks faces of selected high level elected officials on major TV cable news channels: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and BBC News. The underlying data are available for download here. Unlike caption-based searches, Face-o-Matic uses facial recognition algorithms to recognize individuals on TV news screens. It is sensitive enough to catch this tiny, dark image of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., within a graphic, and this quick flash of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky.

The work of TV Architect Tracey Jaquith, our Third Eye project scans the lower thirds of TV screens, using OCR, or optical character recognition, to turn these fleeting missives into downloadable data ripe for analysis. Launched in September 2017, Third Eye tracks BBC News, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, and collected more than four million chyrons captured in just over two weeks, and counting.

Download Third Eye data. API and TSV options available.

Follow Third Eye on Twitter.

Vox news reporter Alvin Chang used the Third Eye chyron data to report how Fox News paid less attention to Hurricane Maria’s destruction in Puerto Rico than it did to Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, which battered Florida and Texas. Chang’s work followed a similar piece by Dhrumil Mehta for FiveThirtyEight, which used Television Explorer, a tool developed by data scientist Kalev Leetaru to search and visualize closed captioning on the TV News Archive.

 

FiveThirtyEight used TV News Archive captions to create this look at how cable networks covered recent hurricanes.

CNN’s Brian Stelter followed up with a similar analysis on “Reliable Sources” October 1.

We’re also working with academics who are using our tools to unlock new insights. For example, Schultz and Jaquith are working with Bryce Dietrich at the University of Iowa to apply the Duplitron, the audiofingerprinting tool that fueled our political ad airing data, to analyze floor speeches of members of Congress. The study identifies which floor speeches were aired on cable news programs and explores the reasons why those particular clips were selected for airing. A draft of the paper was presented in the 2017 Polinfomatics Workshop in Seattle and will begin review for publication in the coming months.

What’s next? Our plans include making more than a million hours of TV news available to researchers from both private and public institutions via a digital public library branch of the Internet Archive’s TV News Archive. These branches would be housed in computing environments, where networked computers provide the processing power needed to analyze large amounts of data. Researchers will be able to conduct their own experiments using machine learning to extract metadata from TV news. Such metadata could include, for example, speaker identification–a way to identify not just when a speaker appears on a screen, but when she or he is talking. Metadata generated through these experiments would then be used to enrich the TV News Archive, so that any member of the public could do increasingly sophisticated searches.

Going global

We live in an interdependent world, but we often lack understanding about how other cultures perceive us. Collecting global TV could open a new window for journalists and researchers seeking to understand how political and policy messages are reported and spread across the globe. The same tools we’ve developed to track political ads, faces, chyrons, and captions can help us put news coverage from around the globe into perspective.

We’re beginning work to expand our TV collection to include more channels from around the globe. We’ve added the BBC and recently began collecting Deutsche Welle from Germany and the English-language Al Jazeera. We’re talking to potential partners and developing strategy about where it’s important to collect TV and how we can do so efficiently.

History is happening, but we’re not just watching. We’re collecting, making it accessible, and working with others to find new ways to understand it. Stay tuned. Email us at tvnews@archive.org. Follow us @tvnewsarchive, and subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

Answer Key

  1. b. (See: “The Media Really Has Neglected Puerto Rico,” FiveThirtyEight.
  2. b. False. (See: Vice President Mike Pence statement and linked PolitiFact fact-check.)
  3. c. MSNBC. (See: Face-O-Matic blog post.)

Members of the TV News Archive team: Roger Macdonald, director; Robin Chin, Katie Dahl, Tracey Jaquith, Dan Schultz, and Nancy Watzman.

TV News Record: 1,340 fact checks collected and counting

A weekly round up on what’s happening and what we’re seeing at the TV News Archive by Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman. Additional research by Robin Chin.

In an era when social media algorithms skew what people see online, the Internet Archive TV News Archive’s collections of on-the-record statements by top political figures serves  as a powerful model for how preservation can provide a deep resource for who really said what, when, and where.

Since we launched our Trump Archive in January 2017, and followed in August with the four congressional leaders, Democrat and Republican, as well as key executive branch figures, we’ve collected some 4,534 hours of curated programming and more than 1,300 fact-checks of material on subjects ranging from immigration to the environment to elections.

The 1,340 fact-checks–and counting–represent a subset of the work of partners FactCheck.org, PolitiFact and The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, as we link only to fact-checks that correspond to statements that appear on TV news. Most of the fact-checks–524–come from PolitiFact; 492 are by FactCheck.org, and 324 from The Washington Post’s Fact Checker.

As a library, we’re dedicated to providing a record – sometimes literally, as in the case of 78s! – that can help researchers, journalists, and the public find trustworthy sources for our collective history. These clip collections, along with fact-checks, now largely hand-curated, provide a quick way to find public statements made by elected officials.

See the Trump, US Congress, and executive branch archives and collected fact-checks.

The big picture

Given his position at the helm of the government, it is not surprising that Trump garners most of the fact-checking attention.  Three out of four, or 1008 of the fact-checks, focus on Trump’s statements. Another 192 relate to the four congressional leaders: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky.; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y.; House Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wis.; and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif. We’ve also logged 140 fact-checks related to key administration figures such as Sean Spicer, Jeff Sessions, and Mike Pence.

pie chart

The topics

The topics covered by fact-checkers run the gamut of national and global policy issues, history, and everything in between. For example, the debate on tax reform is grounded with fact-checks of the historical and global context posited by the president. Fact-checkers have also examined his aides’ claims on the impact of the current reform proposal on the wealthy and on the deficit. They’ve also followed the claims made by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wis., the leading GOP policy voice on tax reform.

Another large set of fact-checks cover health care, going back as far as this claim made in 2010 by Pelosi about job creation under healthcare reform (PolitiFact rated it “Half True.”) The most recent example is the Graham-Cassidy bill that aimed to repeal much of Obamacare. One of the most sharply contested debates about that legislation was whether or not it would require coverage of people with pre-existing conditions. Fact-checkers parsed the he-said he-said debate as it unfolded on TV news, for example examining dueling claims by Schumer and Trump.

Browse or download  fact-checked TV clips by topic

The old stuff

The collection of Trump fact checks include a few dating back to 2011, long before his successful presidential campaign. Here he is at the CPAC conference that year claiming no one remembered now-former President Barack Obama from school, part of his campaign to question Obama’s citizenship. (PolitiFact rated: “Pants on Fire!”) And here he is with what FactCheck.org called a “100 percent wrong” claim about the Egyptian people voting to overturn a treaty with Israel.

This fact-check of McConnell dates back to 2009, when PolitiFact rated “false” his claim of how much federal spending occurred under Obama’s watch: “In just one month, the Democrats have spent more than President Bush spent in seven years on the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan and Hurricane Katrina combined.”

Meanwhile, this 2010 statement by Schumer, rated “mostly false” by PolitiFact, asserted that the U.S. Supreme Court “decided to overrule the 100-year-old ban on corporate expenditures.” The ban on giving directly to candidates is still in place; however,  corporations are free to spend unlimited funds on elections providing they do so separate from a candidate’s official campaign.

The repetition

Twenty-four million people will be forced off their health insurance, young farmers have to sell the farm to pay estate tax, NATO members owe the United States money, millions of women turn to Planned Parenthood for mammograms, and sanctuary cities lead to higher crime. These are all examples of claims found to be inaccurate or misleading, but that continued or continue to be repeated by public officials.

The unexpected

Whether you lean one political direction or another, there are always surprises from the fact-checkers that can keep all our assumptions in check. For example, if you’re opposed to building a wall on the southern border to keep people from crossing into the U.S., you might guess Trump’s claim that people use catapults to toss drugs over current walls is an exaggeration. In fact, that statement was rated “mostly true” by PolitiFact. Or if you’re conservative, you might be surprised to learn an often repeated quote ascribed to Thomas Jefferson, in this case by Vice President Mike Pence, is in fact falsely attributed to him.

How to find

If you’re looking for the most recent TV news statements with fact-checks, you can see the latest offerings on the TV Archive’s homepage by scrolling down.

screen grab of place on tv homepageYou can review whole speeches, scanning for just the fact-checked claims by looking for the fact-check icon  on a program timeline. For example, starting in the Trump Archive, you can choose a speech or interview and see if and how many of the statements were checked by reporters.

screen grab of timeline w icons

You can also find the fact-checks in the growing table, also available to download, which includes details on the official making the claim, the topic(s) covered, the url for the corresponding TV news clip, and the link to the fact-checking article.

image of fact-checks table

To receive the TV News Archive’s email newsletter, subscribe here.

###

TV News Record: Wayback Machine saves deleted prez tweets

A weekly round up on what’s happening and what we’re seeing at the TV News Archive by Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman. Additional research by Robin Chin.

In this week’s TV News Archive roundup, we explain how presidential tweets are forever, show how different TV cable news networks summarized NFL protests via Third Eye chyron data, and present FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of hurricane coverage (hint: Puerto Rico got less attention.)

Wayback Machine preserved deleted prez tweets; PolitiFact fact-checks legality of prez tweet deletions (murky)

The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine has preserved President Donald Trump’s deleted tweets praising failed GOP Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Luther Strange following his defeat by Roy Moore on September 26. So does the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalism site ProPublica, through its Politwoops project.

The story of Trump’s deleted tweets about Strange was reported far and wide, including this segment on MSNBC’s “Deadline Whitehouse” that aired on September 27.

In a fact-check on the legality of a president deleting tweets, linked in the TV News Archive clip above, John Kruzel, reports for PolitiFact that the law is murky but still being fleshed out:

Experts were split over how much enforcement power courts have in the arena of presidential record-keeping, though most seemed to agree the president has the upper hand.

“One of the problems with the Presidential Records Act is that it does not have a lot of teeth,” said Douglas Cox, a professor at the City University of New York School of Law. “The courts have held that the president has wide and almost unreviewable discretion to interpret the Presidential Records Act.”

That said, many of the experts we spoke to are closely monitoring how the court responds to the litigation around Trump administration record-keeping.

He also provides background on that litigation, a lawsuit brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The case is broadly about requirements for preserving presidential records, and a previous set of deleted presidential tweets is a part of it.

Fact Check: NFL attendance and ratings are way down because people love their country (Mostly false)

Speaking of Trump’s tweets, the president ignited an explosion of coverage with an early morning tweet on Sunday, Sept. 24, ahead of a long day of football games: “NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country.”

Manuela Tobias of PolitiFact rated this claim as “mostly false,” reporting, “Ratings were down 8 percent in 2016, but experts said the drop was modest and in line with general ratings for the sports industry. The NFL remains the most watched televised sports event in the United States.” “As for political motivation, there’s little evidence to suggest people are boycotting the NFL. Most of the professional sports franchises are dealing with declines in popularity.”

How did different cable TV news networks cover the NFL protests?

We first used the Television Explorer tool to see where there was a spike in the use of the word “NFL” near the word “Trump.” It looked like Sunday showed the most use of these words. After a  closer look, we saw MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN all showed highest mentions of these terms around 2 pm Pacific.

Spike at 2 pm (PST) for CNN, MSNBC, and CNN

Then we downloaded data from the new Third Eye project, which turns TV News chyrons into data, filtering for that date and hour. We were able to see how the three cable news networks were summarizing the news at that particular point in time.

At about 2:02, CNN broadcast this chyron“NFL teams kneel, link arms in defiance of Trump.”

Screen grab of chyron caught by Third Eye from 2:02 pm 9/24/17 on CNN

Fox News chose the following, also seen below tweeted from one of the Third Eye twitter bots: “Some NFL owners criticize Trump’s statements on player protests, link arms with players”

Meanwhile, MSNBC chose a different message “Taking a knee: NFL teams send a message.”

Screen grab of chyron caught by Third Eye from 2:02 pm 9/24/17 on MSNBC

About eight minutes later, all three cable channels were still reporting on the NFL protests:

Puerto Rico’s hurricane Maria got less media attention than hurricanes Harvey & Irma

Writing for FiveThirtyEight.com, Dhrumil Mehta demonstrated that both online news sites and TV news broadcasters paid less attention to Puerto Rico’s hurricane Marie than to hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which hit mainland U.S. primarily in Texas and Florida. Mehta used TV News Archive data via Television Explorer, as well as data from Media Cloud on online news coverage, to help make his case:

While Puerto Rico suffers after Hurricane Maria, much of the U.S. media (FiveThirtyEight not excepted) has been occupied with other things: a health care bill that failed to pass, a primary election in Alabama, and a spat between the president and sports players, just to name a few. Last Sunday alone, after President Trump’s tweets about the NFL, the phrase “national anthem” was said in more sentences on TV news than “Puerto Rico” and “Hurricane Maria” combined.

To receive the TV News Archive’s email newsletter, subscribe here.