Category Archives: Television Archive

TV News Record: Debt ceiling, hurricane funding, GDP

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 examine the latest Face-o-Matic data (you can too!); and present our partner’s fact-checks on Sen. Ted Cruz’s claims that Hurricane Sandy emergency funding was filled with “unrelated pork” and President Donald Trump’s claims about other country’s GDPs.

What got political leaders sustained face-time on TV news last week?

What got Trump, McConnell, Schumer, Ryan, and Pelosi the longest clips on TV cable news screens this past week? Thanks to our new trove of Face-O-Matic data developed with the start-up Matroid’s facial recognition algorithms, reporters and researchers can get quick answers to questions like these.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., got almost six minutes – an unusually large amount of sustained face-time for the Democrat from California – from “MSNBC Live” on September 7 covering her press conference following President Donald Trump’s surprise deal with congressional Democrats on the debt ceiling.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky., also enjoyed his longest sustained face-time segment last week on the debt ceiling, clocking in at 34 seconds on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wis., got 11 minutes on September 7 on Fox News’ “Happening Now,” for his weekly press conference, where he was shown discussing a variety of topics, including Hurricane Harvey, tax reform, and also debt relief. For Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y., the topic that got him the most sustained time–21 seconds–was also his unexpected deal with the president on the debt ceiling.

For President Donald Trump, however, who never lacks for TV news face-time, his longest sustained appearance on TV news this past week was his speech at this week’s 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon.

Fact-check: Hurricane Sandy relief was 2/3 filled with pork and unrelated spending (false)

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Sen. Ted Cruz, R., Texas, came under criticism by supporting federal funding for Harvey victims while having opposed such funding for victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2013.  Cruz defended himself by saying, “The problem with that particular bill is it became a $50 billion bill that was filled with unrelated pork. Two-thirds of that bill had nothing to do with Sandy.”

But Lori Robertson of FactCheck.org labeled this claim as “false,” noting that a Congressional Research Service study pegged at least 69 percent of that bill’s funding as related to Sandy, and that even more of the money could be attributed to hurricane relief funding: “Cruz could have said he thought the Sandy relief legislation included too many non-emergency items. That’s fair enough, and his opinion. But he was wrong to specifically say two-thirds of the bill “had nothing to do with Sandy,” or “little or nothing to do with Hurricane Sandy.”

Fact-check: Trump spoke with world leader unhappy with nine percent GDP growth rate (three Pinocchios)

At a recent press conference on his tax reform plan, President Donald Trump remarked that other foreign leaders are unhappy with higher rates of growth in gross domestic product (GDP) than the U.S. has. “I spoke to a leader of a major, major country recently. Big, big country. They say ‘our country is very big, it’s hard to grow.’ Well believe me this country is very big. How are you doing, I said. ‘Cause I have very good relationships believe it or not with the leaders of these countries. I said, how are you doing? He said ‘not good, not good at all. Our GDP is 7 percent.’ I say 7 percent? Then I speak to another one. ‘Not good. Not good. Our GDP is only 9 percent.’”

Nicole Lewis of The Washington Post’s Fact Checker gave this claim “three Pinocchios”: “Of the 58 heads of state he’s met or spoke with since taking office, not one can claim 9 percent GDP growth. Perhaps Trump misheard. Or perhaps the other leader was fibbing. Or maybe Trump just thought the pitch for a tax cut sounded better if he could quote two leaders….In any case, Trump is making a major economic error in comparing the GDP of a developed country to a developing one. For his half-truths, and for comparing apples to oranges, Trump receives Three Pinocchios.”

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TV News Record: Trump eclipses sun (at least on TV news)

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 round up, we ask whether the eclipse eclipsed politicians on TV news; we hearken back to a 2016 political ad in which President Donald Trump talks about the wall he wants to build between the U.S. and Mexico; and finally, we link fact-checks from our national partners on the president’s speech in Phoenix, Arizona.

Trump eclipses sun (at least on TV news)

The total eclipse of the sun that was viewable coast to coast in the U.S. was big news this week–but not big enough to merit more mentions than President Donald Trump. The chart below illustrates how much coverage major cable news stations gave over a 24-hour period starting August 21 for the president and congressional leaders versus the solar eclipse. In every case, Trump got more air time than the celestial event; among congressional leaders, only House Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wis., beat the sun, and then only on CNN (and that’s because CNN ran coverage of a town hall meeting he hosted that day). Of course, cable news shows, by their very nature, devote more time to politics than they do to science, and congressional leaders don’t have the public profile a sitting president does; nevertheless, here’s an example of how our TV news diet continues to be dominated by the president.

Source: Television News Explorer, fueled by TV News Archive closed captioning. Represents percent of sentence mentions devoted to Trump and congressional leaders vs. eclipse/sun over 24-hour period.

Trump on the wall

On August 22, at a rally in Phoenix, Trump raised the stakes on building his promised border wall between the U.S. and Mexico by threatening a government shut down over the issue: “[W]e are building a wall on the southern border, which is absolutely necessary…. [T]he obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but believe me, we have to close down that government. We’re building that wall.”

Trump is keenly aware of his campaign promise that he would build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico; for example, the political nature of his promise–and that Mexico would pay for it–was a key theme of his phone conversation with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto following the election.

In January 2016, Trump’s campaign ran the following ad more than 1,400 times in key TV markets reaching voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, according to data analyzed by the TV News Archive’s Political Ad Archive. Interestingly, in the ad he talks about the wall–but not the promise to pay:

“I’m Donald Trump and I approve this message. We are going to take our country and we’re going to fix it, we’re going to make it great again. We are going to fix our health. We are going to take care of our vets. We are going to fix our military. We are going to strengthen our borders, we’re going to build the wall, but we are going to strengthen our borders, we are going to make it great again, we’re going to make it greater than ever before, thank you.”

Fact-checks: The Phoenix rally

During the rally in Phoenix, Trump made many factual assertions that PolitiFact and FactCheck.org found wanting. (View the full rally here on the TV News Archive.) Among them: the president’s claim that “There aren’t too many people outside protesting,” which PolitiFact reporter Miriam Valverde rated as “false”:

“Thousands of people were out on the streets of Phoenix protesting Trump’s speech, according to multiple media accounts and the Phoenix police chief, who said the city’s downtown had “tens of thousands” of people exercising their right to free speech….Trump significantly underestimated crowds in Phoenix.”

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TV News Record: Charlottesville edition

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.

It was an extraordinary week on TV news. Cable news hosts and guests are known for brawling, and there was plenty of that, but this week there were also tears, revulsion, and outright astonishment in response to President Donald Trump’s declaration at a press conference on August 15 that there were “very fine people on both sides” at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. We’ve preserved it all at the TV News Archive, and here present some highlights–or some might say lowlights–in public discourse.

Vice captured white supremacists chanting “Jews will not replace us”

When white supremacists carrying tiki torches marched at the University of Virginia on the evening of August 11 to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, Vice news was there recording their chants of “blood and soil,” “Jews will not replace us,” and “Whose streets, our streets.” CNN later aired this clip from the Vice video that shows the marchers chanting and counter protesters confronting them and yelling, “No Nazis, no KKK, no fascist USA.”

Trump responded by blaming “many sides” for the violence in Charlottesville

The protest turned deadly on Saturday, August 14, when a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters leaving dozens wounded and a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, dead. Trump came under criticism for making a public statement, saying: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

On Monday, Trump denounced the KKK and neo-Nazis

After a barrage of criticism, on Monday, Trump made a statement denouncing white supremacists by name: “Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

On Tuesday, Trump was back to finding fault with “both sides”

On August 15, at a press conference in New York City on infrastructure policy, Trump lashed out at reporters asking about Charlottesville during the question and answer period and stated, “I think there’s blame on both sides… you had some bad people in that group, but you also had people who were very fine people on both sides.”



How top-rated cable TV news shows reported on Charlottesville

Source: TV News Archive; content hand-coded by coverage subject

As the Charlottesville controversy unfolded on Monday and Tuesday, the Nielsen top-rated shows on TV cable news revealed a sharp contrast in the editorial decisions made in covering it.

On Monday evening, MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” spent around 79 percent of the show on Charlottesville and its aftermath. Sixteen percent of the show was spent on ongoing investigations of Trump and his campaign and five percent on presidential pardons. Maddow’s guests included Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer and author of White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide Carol Anderson. Maddow began her show with a monologue detailing a history of criminal activity to financially support the neo-Nazi agenda, including a new civil war.

The same night, Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” devoted about one-third of the show’s time to Charlottesville; 14 percent on the Democratic National Committee email hack; 27 percent on a memo by a former Google employee about gender; 11 percent on U.S. “no-go” zones of Sharia law; 14 percent on North Korea, and three percent on a Georgia congressional race. His guests included former NYPD officer Dan Bongino, White House aide Omarosa Newman, former NSA technical director Bill Binney, fired Google employee James Damore, Breitbart London editor-in-chief Nigel Farage, and author and political commentator Charles Krauthammer.

On both Monday and Tuesday, Anderson Cooper devoted 100 percent of coverage to Charlottesville during the first hour of his show, “Anderson Cooper 360.” His guests on Monday included Susan Bro, the mother of slain counter protester, Heather Heyer; Harvard University’s Cornel West; former director of black outreach for George W. Bush, Paris Dennard; The New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman; news commentator and author Van Jones; Daily Beast columnist Matt Lewis; former Republican National Committee chief of staff Mike Shields; and photographer Ryan Kelly, who snapped the photograph of James Fields, Jr., plowing his car through a crowd of counter protesters.

Several Fox hosts and guests expressed emotion about Trump’s statements

While much of the Fox News coverage put a positive spin on Trump’s statements, what stuck out were the exceptions to that general rule on the conservative cable news channel.

Fox News host Kat Timpf, on air Tuesday when Trump gave his press conference, reacted by saying, “It shouldn’t be some kind of bold statement to say a gathering of white supremacists doesn’t have good people in it. Those are all bad people, period. The fact that’s controversial… I have too much eye makeup on now to start crying right now. It’s disgusting.”

Here is GOP strategist Gianno Caldwell, fighting tears on “Fox and Friends,” as he says, “I come today with a a very heavy heart… last night I couldn’t sleep at all, because President Trump, our president, has literally betrayed the conscience of our country… good people don’t pal around with Nazis and white supremacists.”



Fact-check: Trump’s Tuesday press conference (provides context and timeline)

FactCheck.org’s Eugene Kiely and Robert Farley quickly published a post after Trump’s Tuesday press conference putting several of his assertions in context and providing a timeline of events. For example, they noted that while Trump had said, “before I make a statement, I like to know the facts,” that “Trump hasn’t always waited for ‘the facts’ after a tragedy. For example, he speculated that ‘yet another terrorist attack’ was to blame for an EgyptAir plane that disappeared May 19, 2016. The cause is still unknown.”



Fact-check: Counter-protestors lacked a permit (four Pinocchios)

At his Tuesday press conference, Trump said, “You had a lot of people in that [white nationalist] group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest, because you know — I don’t know if you know — they had a permit. The other group didn’t have a permit.”

“[T]hey did have permits for rallies on Saturday — and they did not need one to go into or gather near Emancipation Park, where white nationalists scheduled their rally. No permits were needed to march on the U-Va. campus on Friday night,” wrote Glenn Kessler for The Washington Post’s Fact Checker. He gave the president’s claim “four Pinocchios.”

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TV News Record: North Korea plus Vox on Fox

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.

This week we look at how different cable networks explained newly inflamed U.S.-North Korea tensions. Which channel seemed to repeat a particular phrase, like “fire and fury” the most in the last few days?  What did fact-checking partners have to report on President Donald’s Trump’s tweeted threat against North Korea? Plus: a Vox analysis of Fox based on TV News Archive closed captioning data.

“Fire and fury” popular on CNN

Over a 72-hour-period, CNN mentioned President Donald Trump’s “fire and fury”  threat against North Korea more than other major cable networks, according to a search on the Television Explorer, a tool created by data scientist Kalev Leetaru and powered by TV News Archive data.

“fire and fury” search 819am MST 8.11.17


Morning show reactions day after “fire and fury” statement

While a Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade said President Trump was “right on target” with his threat against North Korea, a Fox Business Network morning show hosted Center for National Interest’s Harry Kazianis who blamed former President Barack Obama for the current U.S.-North Korea tensions. Meanwhile, host Lauren Simonetti and showed viewers a map of potential trajectories of missiles from North Korea to the continental U.S., saying “you can see they have the ability to strike major cities, including New York City and Washington, D.C..”

On a BBC morning show, the PC Agency CEO Paul Charles said President Trump “is talking like a dictator himself to some extent,” and offered his opinion on the geopolitical context, saying “it’s in their [China’s] own interest to try and find some territorial gain in the region, so I’m not convinced China can the answer.”

C-SPAN aired footage of an interview with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in which he said “I do not believe there is any imminent threat” and that though he was on his way to Guam which North Korea said it was targeting, he “never considered rerouting.”

A CNN morning show had a panel of guests from all over the world, giving them an opportunity to share perspectives from those locations, including CNN international correspondent Will Ripley reporting from Beijing that there is “increasing concern that an accidental war could break out on the Korean Peninsula,” CNN international correspondent Alexandria Fields reporting that people in South Korea “know that a war of words can lead to a mistake and that’s the fear; that’s the fear and that’s what can cause conflict… You’ve got more than 20 million people in the wider Seoul metropolitan area.” CNN military and diplomatic analyst Rear Admiral John Kirby offered his perspective that “when the president reacts the way he does, he reinforces Kim’s propaganda that it is about the United States and regime change. He’s actually working to isolate us rather than North Korea from the international community.”



Vox on Fox; used TV News Archive data used to reveal shift in “Fox & Friends”

Vox reporter Alvin Chang used closed captioning data of “Fox & Friends” from the TV News Archive for his analysis showing that “the program is in something of a feedback loop with the president.” He spoke about his work on CNN, saying hosts of the Fox show “seem to know that the president is listening” and “instruct or advise the president, and they’ve done it increasingly more since his election.”



Fact-check: US nuclear arsenal now stronger than ever before because of the president’s actions (false)

On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted, “My first order as president was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before.”

“False,” reported PolitiFact’s Louis Jacobson, writing, “[T]his wasn’t Trump’s first order as president” and his executive order was “not unusual.” He quoted Harvard nuclear-policy expert, Matthew Bunn: “There is a total of nothing that has changed substantially about the U.S. nuclear arsenal over the few months that Trump has been in office. We have the same missiles and bombers, with the same nuclear weapons, that we had before.”

Over at FactCheck.org, Eugene Kiely quoted Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists: “The renovation and modernization of the arsenal that is going on now is all the result of decisions that were made by the Obama administration,’ ”

Glenn Kessler reported for the Washington Post’s Fact Checker that the president’s tweet was “misleading Americans” and gave him “four Pinocchios.”

Fact-check: American workers were left behind after “buy American steel” bill failed (spins the facts)

In the Democratic weekly address, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D., Wis., said, “My Buy America reform passed the Senate with bipartisan support. But when it got to the House, the foreign steel companies bought Washington lobbyists to kill it. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell gave them what they wanted, and American workers were left behind again.”

“Baldwin’s bill would have required U.S. steel to be used on projects funded by the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. It didn’t pass, but a separate provision in a water infrastructure bill that became law last year does exactly that for fiscal 2017. In fact, Congress has imposed the same buy American provision for drinking water projects every year since fiscal 2014,” reported Eugene Kiely for FactCheck.org.

Fact-checkers have been busy checking recent Trump comments, including these from W. Virginia and  Youngstown, OH rallies, and the speech he gave to the Boy Scouts.

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McConnell, Schumer, Ryan, Pelosi fact-checked clips featured in new TV News Archive collections

Today the Internet Archive’s TV News Archive unveils growing TV news collections focused on congressional leadership and top Trump administration officials, expanding our experimental Trump Archive to other newsworthy government officials. Together, all of the collections include links to more than 1,200 fact-checked clips–and counting–by our national fact-checking partners, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, and The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker.

These experimental video clip collections, which contain more than 3,500 hours of video, include archives focused on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky.; Sen. Minority Leader Charles (“Chuck”) Schumer, D., N.Y.; House Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wis.; and House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., as well as top Trump officials past and present such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Download a csv of fact-checked video statements or see all the fact-checked clips.

Visit the U.S. Congress archive.

Visit the Executive Branch archive.

Visit the Trump Archive.

We created these largely hand-curated collections as part of our experimentation in demonstrating how Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms could be harnessed to create useful, ethical, public resources for journalists and researchers in the months and years ahead. Other experiments include:

  • the Political TV Ad Archive, which tracked airings of political ads in the 2016 elections by using the Duplitron, an open source audio fingerprinting tool;
  • the Trump Archive, launched in January;
  • Face-O-Matic, an experimental Slack app created in partnership with Matroid that uses facial detection to find congressional leaders’ faces on TV news. Face-O-Matic has quickly proved its mettle by helping our researchers find clips suitable for inclusion in the U.S. Congress Archive; future plans include making data available in CSV and JSON formats.
  • in the works: TV Architect Tracey Jaquith is experimenting with detection of text in the chyrons that run on the bottom third of cable TV news channels. Stay tuned.

Red check mark shows there’s a fact-check in this footage featuring House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif. Follow the link below the clip to see the fact-check, in this case by The Washington Post’s Fact Checker.

At present, our vast collection of TV news –1.4 million shows collected since 2009–is searchable via closed-captioning. But closed captions, while helpful, can’t help a user find clips of a particular person speaking; instead, when searching a name such as “Charles Schumer” it returns a mix of news stories about the congressman, as well as clips where he speaks at news conferences, on the Senate floor, or in other venues.

We are working towards a future in which AI enrichment of video metadata will more precisely identify for fact-checkers and researchers when a public official is actually speaking, or some other televised record of that official making an assertion of fact. This could include, for example, camera footage of tweets.

Such clips become a part of the historical record, with online links that don’t rot, a central part of the Internet Archive’s mission to preserve knowledge. And they can help fact-checkers decide where to concentrate their efforts, by finding on-the-record assertions of fact by public officials. Finally, these collections could prove useful for teachers, documentary makers, or anybody interested in exploring on-the-record statements by public officials.

For example, here are two dueling views of the minimum wage, brought to the public by McConnell and Schumer.

In this interview on Fox News in January 2014, McConnell says, “The minimum wage is mostly an entry-level wage for young people.” PolitiFact’s Steve Contorno rated this claim as “mostly true.” While government statistics do show that half of the people making the minimum wage are young, 20 percent are in their late 20s or early 30s and another 30 percent are 35 or older. Contorno also points out that it’s a stretch to call these jobs “entry-level,” but rather are “in the food or retail businesses or similar industries with little hope for career advancement.”

Schumer presents a different assertion on the minimum wage, saying on “Morning Joe” in May 2014 that with a rate of $10.10/hour “you get out of poverty.” PolitiFact’s Louis Jacobson rated this claim as “half true”: “Since the households helped by the $10.10 wage account for 46 percent of all impoverished households, Schumer is right slightly less than half the time.”

These new collections reflect the hard work of many at the Internet Archive, including Robin Chin, Katie Dahl, Tracey Jaquith, Roger MacDonald, Dan Schultz, and Nancy Watzman.

As we move forward, we would love to hear from you. Contact us with questions, ideas, and concerns at tvnews@archive.org. And to keep up-to-date with our experiments, sign up for our weekly TV News Archive newsletter.

 

TV News Record: McCain returns to vote, Spicer departs

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.

Last week, Sean Spicer left his White House post and Anthony Scaramucci, the new communications director, made his mark; Sen. John McCain, R., Ariz., returned to the Senate floor to debate–and cast a deciding vote on–health care reform; and fact-checkers examined claims about Trump’s off-the-record meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and more.

McCain shows up in D.C. – and on Face-O-Matic

Last week, after we launched Face-O-Matic, an experimental Slack app that recognizes the faces of top public officials when they appear on TV news, we received a request from an Arizona-based journalism organization to track Sen. John McCain, R., Ariz.. Soon after we added the senator’s visage to Face-O-Matic, we started getting the alerts.

News anchors talked about how McCain’s possible absence because of his brain cancer diagnosis could affect upcoming debates and votes on health care.

Reporters gave background on how the Senate has dealt with absences due to illness in the past.

Pundits discussed McCain’s character, and his daughter provided a “loving portrait.” Then coverage shifted to report the senator’s return to Washington, and late last night his key no vote on the “skinny” health care repeal.



White House: Spicer out, Scaramucci in 

After Sean Spicer resigned as White House communications director, Fox News and MSNBC offered reviews of his time at the podium.

On Fox News, Howard Kurtz introduced Spicer as someone “long known to reporters as an affable spokesman; he became the president’s pit bull,” and went on to give a run-down of his controversial relationship with the press. The conclusion, “He lasted exactly, six months.”

MSNBC offered a mashup of some of Spicer’s most famous statements. These include: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe,” and “But you had a – you know, someone who is as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”

Late this week, Ryan Lizza published an article in The New Yorker based on a phone call he received from the new White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, in which the new White House communications director used profanity to describe other members of the White House staff he accused of leaking information. That article soon became fodder for cable TV.



Schumer, Ryan weigh in on Mueller

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller widens his investigation into Russian interference in U.S. elections, speculation is running high on TV news that President Donald Trump might fire him.

Fox News ran a clip of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., NY., saying, “I think it would cause a cataclysm in Washington.”

MSNBC ran a radio clip from House Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wis.:  “I don’t think many people are saying Bob Mueller is a person who is a biased partisan. We have an investigation in the House, an investigation in the Senate, and a special counsel which sort of depoliticizes this stuff and gets it out of the political theater.”



Fact-check: Transgender people in the military would lead to tremendous medical costs and disruption (lacks context)

In a series of tweets this week, President Trump wrote, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow… Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming… victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

For FactCheck.org, Eugene Kiely reported, “Although Trump described the cost as ‘tremendous,’ RAND estimated that providing transition-related health care would increase the military’s health care costs for active-duty members ‘by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually.’ That represents an increase of no more than 0.13 percent of the $6.27 billion spent on the health of active-duty members in fiscal 2014.”



Fact Check: Nixon held meetings with heads of state without an American interpreter (true)

Speaking on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, said:  “Apparently, President Nixon used to do it because he felt, didn’t really trust the State Department, at that point, providing the translators and didn’t necessarily want information getting out, leaking, that he would want to keep private.”

“True,” wrote Joshua Gillan for PolitiFact: “Presidential historians, historical accounts and Nixon’s own memoir show this was the case. But it’s notable that even in the example most comparable to Trump’s meeting with Putin, when Nixon used only a Soviet translator during two meetings with Brezhnev, official records of the meeting exist.”



Fact-check: Allowing insurers to sell plans across state lines will mean premiums go down 60-70% (no evidence)

Not long before the Senate took up health care reform, President Donald Trump said “We’re putting it [allowing insurers to sell plans across state lines] in a popular bill, and that will come. And that will come, and your premiums will be down 60 and 70 percent.”

FactCheck.org’s Lori Robertson reported the “National Association of Insurance Commissioners — a support organization established by the country’s state insurance regulators — said the idea that cross-state sales would bring about lower premiums was a ‘myth.’”



Fact-Check: When the price for oil goes up, it goes up, and never goes down (false)

In an interview Sunday about the new Democratic Party national agenda, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y., said, “We have these huge companies buying up other big companies. It hurts workers and it hurts prices. The old Adam Smith idea of competition, it’s gone. So people hate it when their cable bills go up, their airline fees. They know that gas prices are sticky. You know … when the price for oil goes up on the markets, it goes right up, but it never goes down.”

For PolitiFact, Louis Jacobson reported, “This comment takes a well-known phenomenon and exaggerates it beyond recognition. While experts agree that prices tend to go up quickly after a market shock but usually come down more slowly once the shock is resolved, this phenomenon only occurs on a short-term basis – a couple of weeks in most cases.”

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TV News Record: adventures with Face-O-Matic

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

This week we bring you adventures with Face-O-Matic; fact-checks on President Donald Trump’s legislative record and on health care reform; and we follow the TV on use of the term “lies” and “lying.”

Here’s a face, there’s a face, everywhere a face…

Face-O-Matic, our new experimental Slack app that finds faces of political leaders on major national cable networks, has given us a whole new perspective on how imagery is used in news production. Sure, Face-O-Matic picks up clips of President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky., and others speaking, whether on the floor, at press conferences, or at a luncheon.

However, often these elected officials’ faces are used to illustrate a point a news anchor is making, or in footage without audio, sometimes as a floating head somewhere on the screen, or as part of a tweet. Face-O-Matic even picks up faces in a crowd.

Face-O-Matic can help find frequently re-aired clips.

Face-O-Matic can find even images that are only briefly displayed on the screen.

Face-O-Matic finds both still and video of Trump in a single clip.

Please take Face-O-Matic on a spin and share your feedback with us, tvnews@archive.org. This blog post explains how it fits into our overall plan to turn TV news into data. To install,  for now you’ll need to ask your Slack team administrator or owner to set it up. The administrator can click on the button below to get started. Visit Slack to learn how to set up or join a Slack team. Questions? Contact Dan Schultz, dan.schultz@archive.org.

Fact-check: Trump has signed more bills than any president ever (wrong)

News cameras captured Trump saying, “We’ve signed more bills — and I’m talking about through the legislature — than any president ever.” (A moment later, he commented that he doesn’t “like Pinocchios,” referring to The Washington Post’s Fact Checker rating system.)

Glenn Kessler, reporting for that same fact-checking site, explained why Trump is not, in fact, besting his predecessors in the White House when it comes to bill signing. But, he refrains from stating how many Pinocchios the president had earned: “Tempted as we are to give the president Pinocchios for his statement, he seemed to be speaking off the cuff and was operating on outdated information from his first 100 days. We don’t play gotcha here at The Fact Checker, and we appreciate that he added a caveat. He certainly appeared to pause for a moment and wonder if he was right. For Trump, that’s a step in the right direction…But he’s way off the mark and actually falling behind in legislative output.”



Fact-check: “bushel” of Pence claims on health care reform (range from “twists the facts” to “false”)

Also writing for The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, Michelle Ye Hee Lee checked a number of statements Vice President Mike Pence made about the Senate health care reform bill during an appearance at the National Governors Association.

These included, for example, the claim, “I know Governor Kasich isn’t with us, but I suspect that he’s very troubled to know that in Ohio alone, nearly 60,000 disabled citizens are stuck on waiting lists, leaving them without the care they need for months or even years.”

Lee wrote that this claim is false: “[T]here’s no evidence the wait lists are tied to Medicaid expansion. We previously gave four Pinocchios to a similar claim….The expansion and wait list populations are separate, and expansion doesn’t necessarily affect the wait list population….Whether people move off the wait list depends on many factors, such as how urgent their needs are, how long they’ll need services and whether the states have money to pay for them. Many times, a slot opens up only if someone receiving services moves out of the state or dies.”



Follow the TV

There’s been much controversy in news gathering circles about when, whether, and how to invoke the word “lie” when reporting on public officials. One of our archivists, Robin Chin, has noticed a number of prominent uses of the term by commentators in recent TV news coverage.

For example, here’s Shepard Smith on Fox News on July 14 saying, “Jared Kushner filled out his form. I think it’s an F-86 saying who he met with and what he had done… He went back and added 100 names and places. None of these people made it… Why is it lie after lie after lie? … My grandmother used to say when first we practice to — oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. The deception, Chris, is mind boggling.”

And here’s Tom Brokaw on July 16 on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” saying: “Certainly there are atmospherics here that call to mind Watergate, the kind of denial of the obvious and the petty lying that is going on. But at the same time, Watergate, I like to think, was there by itself and this president is entangling himself in that kind of discussion they we’re having here today when it’s not in the interest of anyone, most of all this country, when we have so many issues before us. It’s got to get cleaned up.

On July 17, on “CNN: Tonight With Don Lemon,” here is David Gergen saying: “Other presidents succeed at this by just being straightforward about the facts. And it’s gone on for so long and so duplicitous and so much double speak that you begin to wonder, this is quite intentional. This may be quite intentional. You create a fog bank of lies and uncertainties and vagueness and create so many different details that people just sort of say, the hell with that, I don’t want to watch this… My sense is that a lot of Americans are starting to tune out…”

Search captions for terms you are interested in at the TV News Archive. For trends, try the Television Explorer, built by data scientist Kalev Leetaru, and powered by TV News Archive data, which can provide quick visualizations of terms broken down by network.

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Internet Archive TV News Lab: Introducing Face-O-Matic, experimental Slack alert system tracking Trump & congressional leaders on TV news

Working with Matroid, a California-based start up specializing in identifying people and objects in images and video, the Internet Archive’s TV News Archive today releases Face-O-Matic, an experimental public service that alerts users via a Slack app whenever the faces of President Donald Trump and congressional leaders appear on major TV news cable channels: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. The alerts include hyperlinks to the actual TV news footage on the TV News Archive website, where the viewer can see the appearances in context of the entire broadcast, what comes before and what after.

The new public Slack app, which can be installed on any Slack account by the team’s administrator, marks a milestone in our experiments using machine learning to create prototypes of ways to turn our public, free, searchable library of 1.3 million+ TV news broadcasts into data that will be useful for journalists, researchers, and the public in understanding the messages that bombard all of us day-to-day and even minute-to-minute on TV news broadcasts. This information could provide a way to quantify “face time”–literally–on TV news broadcasts. Researchers could use it to show how TV material is recycled online and on social media, and how editorial decisions by networks help set the terms of public debate.

If you want Face-O-Matic to post to a channel on your team’s Slack, ask an administrator or owner to set it up. The administrator can click on the button below to get started. Visit Slack to learn how to set up or join a Slack team. Questions? Contact Dan Schultz, dan.schultz@archive.org.

Add to Slack

To begin, Dan Schultz, senior creative technologist for the TV News Archive, trained Matroid’s facial detection system to recognize the president;  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D, NY; and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif. All are high-ranking elected officials who make news and appear often on TV screens. The alerts appear in a constantly updating stream as soon as the TV shows appear in the TV News Archive

For example, on July 15, 2017 Face-O-Matic detected all five elected officials in an airing of MSNBC Live.

As can be seen, the detections in this case last as little as a second – for example, this flash of Schumer’s and McConnell’s faces alongside each other is a match for both politicians. The moment is from a promotion for “Morning Joe,” the MSNBC show that made headlines in late June when co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough were the targets of angry tweets from the president.  

The longest detected segment in this example is 24 seconds featuring Trump, saying “we are very very close to ending this health care nightmare. We are so close. It’s a common sense approach that restores the sacred doctor-patient relationship. And you’re going to have great health care at a lower price.”

Why detect faces of public officials?

First, our concentration on public officials is purposeful; in experimenting with this technology, we strive to respect individual privacy and harvest only information for which there is a compelling public interest, such as the role of elected officials in public life. The TV News Archive is committed to these principles developed by leading artificial intelligence researchers, ethicists, and others at a January 2017 conference organized by the Future of Life Institute.

Second, developing the technology to recognize faces of public officials contained within the TV News Archive and turning it into data opens a whole new dimension for journalists and researchers to explore for patterns and trends in how news is reported.  

For example, it will eventually be possible to trace the origin of specific video clips found online; to determine how often the president’s face appears on TV networks and programs compared to other public officials; to see how often certain video clips are repeated over time; to determine the gender ratio of people appearing on TV news; and more. It will become useful not just in explaining how media messages travel, but also as a way to counter misinformation, by providing a path to verify source material that appears on TV news.

This capability adds to the toolbox we’ve already begun with the Duplitron, the open source audio fingerprinting tool developed by Schultz that the TV News Archive used to track political ads and debate coverage in the 2016 elections for the Political TV Ad Archive. The Duplitron is also the basis for The Glorious ContextuBot, which was recently awarded a Knight Prototype Fund grant.

All of these lines of exploration should help journalists and researchers who currently can only conduct such analyses by watching thousands of hours of television and hand coding it or by using an expensive private service. Because we are a public library, we make such information available free of charge.

What’s next?

The TV News Archive will continue to work with partners such as Matroid to develop methods of extracting metadata from the TV News Archive and make it available to the public. We will develop ways to deliver such experimental data in structured formats (such as JSON, csv, etc.) to augment Face-O-Matic’s Slack alert stream. Such data could help researchers conduct analyses of the different amounts of “face-time” public officials enjoy on TV news.

Schultz also hopes to develop ways to augment the facial detection data with closed captioning, with for example OpenedCaptions, another open source tool he created that provides a constant stream of data from TV for any service set up to listen. This will make it simpler to search such data sets to find a particular moment that a researcher is looking for. (Accurate captioning presents its own technological challenges: see this post on Hyper.Audio’s work.)

Beyond this experimental facial detection, we have big plans for the future.  We are planning to make 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. Researchers could create ways to do complex topic analysis, making it possible to trace how certain themes and talking points travel across the TV news universe and perhaps beyond. 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.

Feedback! We want it 

We are eager to hear from people using the Face-O-Matic Slack app and get your feedback.

  • Is the Face-O-Matic Slack app useful? What would make it more useful?
  • Would a structured data stream delivered via JSON, csv, and/or other means be helpful? What sort of information would you like to be included in such a data set?
  • Who is it important for us to track?
  • What else?

Please reach us by email at: tvnews@archive.org, or via twitter @tvnewsarchive. Also please consider signing up for our weekly TV News Archive newsletter. Or, comment or make contributions over here, where Schultz is documenting his progress; all the code developed is open source. (One observer already provided images for a training set to track Mario, the cartoon character.)

The weeds

The TV News Archive, our collection of 1.3 million+ TV news broadcasts dating back to 2009, is already searchable through closed captions.

But captions don’t always get you everything you want. If you search, for example, on the words “Donald Trump” you get back a hodge-podge of clips in which Trump is speaking and clips where reporters are talking about Trump. His image may not appear on the screen at all. The same is true for “Barack Obama,” “Mitch McConnell,” “Chuck Schumer,” or any name.

.

Search “Barack Obama” and the result is a hodge podge of clips.

Developing the ability to search the TV News Archive by recognizing the faces of public officials requires applying algorithms such as those developed by Matroid. In the future we hope to work with a variety of firms and researchers; for example, Schultz is also working on a separate facial detection experiment with the firm Datmo.

Facial detection requires a number of related steps: first, training the system to recognize where a face appears on a TV screen; second, extracting that image so it can be analyzed; and third, comparing that face to a set known to be a particular person to discover matches.

In general, facial recognition algorithms tend to rely on the work of FaceNet, described in this 2015 paper, in which researchers describe creating a way of “mapping from face images to a compact Euclidean space where distances directly correspond to a measure of face similarity.” In other words, it’s a way of turning a face into a pattern of data, and it’s sophisticated enough to describe faces from various vantage points – straight ahead, three-quarter view, side view, etc. To develop Face-o-Matic, TV News Archive staff collected public images of elected officials from different vantage points to use as training sets for the algorithm.

The Face-O-Matic Slack app is meant to be a demonstration project that allows the TV News Archive a way to experiment in two ways: first, by creating pipelines that run the TV News Archive video streams through Artificial Intelligence models to explore whether the resulting information is useful; second, by using a new way to distribute TV News Archive information through the popular Slack service, used widely in journalistic and academic settings.  

We know some ways it can be improved, but we also want to hear from you, the user, with your ideas. In the words of Thomas the Tank Engine, we aspire to be a “really useful engine.”

Face-O-Matic on GitHub

Follow TV News Archive progress in recognizing faces on TV on the following GitHub pages:

Tvarchive-faceomatic. The Face-o-Matic 2000 finds known faces on TV.

Tvarchive-ai_suite. A suite of tools for exploring AI research against video

This post is part of a blog series, TV News Lab, in which we demonstrate how the Internet Archive is partnering with technology, journalism, and academic organizations to experiment with and improve the TV News Archive, our free, public, online library of TV news shows. 

 

 

TV News Record: Donald Trump Jr makes “email” popular on TV again

This week the term “email” took on a new meaning in the annals of political controversy, President Donald Trump traveled to Poland, and the Senate continued to struggle with health care reform.

Email back on TV following Trump Jr.’s release of email exchange

Email as a technology may be on the way out (or just evolving), but its place in political history, already assured, got an even bigger boost this week when Donald Trump Jr. on Tuesday released a June 2016 email chain in which he exclaimed “I love it” to the prospect of receiving damaging information about Hillary Clinton through Russian intermediaries.

The term “email” is spiking again on TV news broadcasts, though it has not yet climbed to levels in the lead up to the November 2016 elections. In those months, particularly Fox news networks hammered on storylines of both hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails and Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to do official business while serving as secretary of state.

However, with congressional and federal investigations of possible Russian tampering with the elections underway, we are early in the life cycle of this story. Stay tuned, and remember that searching terms on TV news is just a few clicks away on Television Explorer, which is fueled by TV News Archive data.

Search of term “emails” on Television Explorer, fueled by TV News Archive data. (Click on image to see larger.)



Following the TV 

The Watergate movie “All the President’s Men,” made the term “follow the money” an inspiration for journalists everywhere; thanks to the TV News Archive, enterprising reporters and researchers can “follow the TV” – find and link to past statements of public officials relevant to a current story.

With this week’s news putting Russia’s involvement in the election back in the headlines, past statements by members of the Trump camp become interesting watching. For example, here’s former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in July 2016, saying “that’s absurd” to the allegation of a Putin-Trump connection.  Here’s Donald Trump Jr. in July 2016 saying it was “disgusting” to say the DNC email hack was perpetrated by the Russian government to support Trump. And here is advisor Kellyanne Conway in December 2016 saying “absolutely not” to a question about whether the Trump campaign was in contact with Russians trying to influence the election.



Factcheck: Obama knew about Russian interference in election and did nothing about it (mostly false)

At a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda last week, President Trump said “Barack Obama when he was president found out about this, in terms of if it were Russia, found out about it in August. Now the election was in November. That is a lot of time he did nothing about it.”

According to Lauren Carroll reporting for Politifact, the Obama administration took several steps after learning of the interference. Among them: “Obama personally confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin and told him to back off… On Oct. 7, the Obama administration publicly identified Russia for the first time as being behind election-related hacks, issuing a joint statement from Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence… Also, throughout August and up through the election, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson encouraged state-level election officials, through official statements and phone calls, to protect voting-related systems from cyber intrusions…However, the Obama administration took its most significant actions against Russia after Nov. 8. In late December, Obama ordered 35 Russian diplomats and suspected intelligence agents to leave the United States, and he also imposed narrow sanctions on some Russian individuals and organizations.”



Factcheck:  Billions are pouring into NATO because of the Trump administration (four Pinocchios)

During a speech in Poland last week, President Donald Trump said about about his calls for increased defense spending by other countries for NATO, “As a result of this insistence, billions of dollars more have begun to pour into NATO.”

“These budget decisions were made during the 2016 calendar year, before Trump became president,” reported Michelle Ye Hee Lee, for The Washington Post’s Fact Checker. She quoted Alexander Vershbow, former deputy secretary general of NATO, who said: “Who deserves the most credit? Vladimir Putin. It was the invasion of Crimea, the launching of insurgency backed by Russia in Eastern Ukraine, that was the wake-up call for the majority of the allies.”



Factcheck: hundreds of thousands will die if the Senate health care bill passes (can’t say)

With the Senate debating health care reform, FactCheck.org checked a recent statement by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif, where she said, “We do know that… hundreds of thousands of people will die if this bill (Senate health care bill) passes.”

Lori Robertson and Robert Farley wrote, “the research uses terms like ‘could’ and ‘suggests’ and ‘cannot definitively demonstrate a causal relationship,’ not the definitive ‘will’ favored by opponents of the bill. We can’t say whether any specific projection is a correct or valid number.”

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TV News Record: Focus on North Korea

By Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman

Following the U.S. government’s confirmation that North Korea had successfully fired an intercontinental ballistic missile, we focus on statements by public officials and pundits on the nuclear threat from the Korean Peninsula, including some past fact-checked segments.

What top-rated cable shows aired the day after

On Fox News, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” focused his report on the missile launch by interviewing Michael Malice, a New York-based ghost writer and author of Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Biography of Kim Yong Inalong with  George Friedman a founder of Geopolitical Futures. Malice said the launch amounted to a commercial for the country’s product, “It’s a great sales pitch to show they have weapons they could sell and make a lot of money off of.” Friedman emphasized that the “Chinese have no reason to solve this,” and also said he didn’t think North Korea has a “capable” nuclear missile at this point.

Over on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow interviewed NBC’s national security reporter, Courtney Kube, who said that North Korea hadn’t demonstrated its capability to deliver a nuclear warhead yet, although “I don’t know if you would find anyone in the U.S. military at the highest levels who would say with confidence or certainty that they don’t absolutely have that capability. I think that they’re hopeful they do not, since they haven’t demonstrated or tested it.”

In the first hour of Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN, John Berman, sitting in for Cooper, placed North Korea’s launch in a global context with President Donald Trump’s trip to Europe, interviewing a panel of former public officials, David Gergen, who advised Republican and Democratic presidents; John Kirby, who was a spokesperson for the State Department under the Obama administration, and Shamila Chaudry, who served on the National Security Council under the Obama administration.


What Congressional leaders have said about North Korea

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky., on April 2o17, mentioned North Korea in context of the U.S. missile strike on Syria in response to chemical attacks on civilians as “a message to Iran and North Korea and the Russians that America intends to lead again.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wis., when talking about a bill to strengthen sanctions back in 2016, said “[Obama’s] strategy of strategic patience with North Korea, it’s just not working.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., in April 2017, said “The president is playing with fire when he’s talking about North Korea. We have to exhaust every diplomatic remedy.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y.,  in April 2017, said “The only way to really stop North Korea from doing what it’s doing short of war is to get China to fully cooperate, because they control all the trade. They control the entire economy, really, of North Korea. My view is to get the Chinese to do something real, you have to be tough with them on trade. Trade is their mother’s milk.”

And now for some past fact-checked segments on North Korea.

Trump never said that more countries should acquire nuclear weapons (False)

In November 2016, not long after he won the election, then-President-elect Donald Trump tweeted:

Lauren Carroll, reporting for PolitiFact, rated this claim “false,” citing several examples from the campaign trail where Trump had said just that. For example, in April 2016, Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked, “You want to have a nuclear arms race on the Korean peninsula?” Later in the broadcast, Trump said about Japan and South Korea, “”Maybe they would be better off — including with nukes, yes, including with nukes.”

China has “total control” over North Korea (Mostly False)

During a Republican primary debate in January 2016, Trump said that China has “total control just about” over North Korea. Reporting for PolitiFact, Louis Jacobson rated this claim as “mostly false.” “He has a point that China holds significant leverage over North Korea if it wishes to exercise it, since China provides the vast majority of North Korea’s international trade, including food and fuel imports. But Trump’s assertion, even slightly hedged as it is, overlooks some significant limits to that leverage, notably the North Korean government’s willingness to follow its own drummer even if that means its people suffer. The fact that North Korea recently conducted a nuclear test over the strenuous objections of China suggests that Beijing lacks anything approaching ‘total control’ over North Korea.”

China accounts for 90 percent of North Korea’s trade (True)

In April 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the U.N. Security Council, “But China, accounting for 90 percent of North Korean trade, China alone has economic leverage over Pyongyang that is unique, and its role is therefore particularly important.”

PolitiFact’s John Kruzel rated this claim as “true.” “China’s role as an outsize trade partner of North Korea is a relatively new development. Since 2000, trade with the rest of the world has dropped off, as Chinese trade has risen. While the ratio is subject to change based on political factors, China now accounts for around 90 percent of North Korean trade.”

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