Comcast’s Blocking and Un-Blocking of Archive.org – What We Know So Far

Comcast Internet users found themselves unable to access archive.org starting late Thursday afternoon due to Comcast blocking access to our site. The earliest time Comcast users reported problems was around 4:30 PM PST and access was restored around 6:15 AM the next day (a span of about 13 hrs 45 min).

Comcast informed us that the block was put into place due to detection of an apparent Xfinity-branded phishing page posted to archive.org by an uploader. According to Comcast, we had taken that page down promptly, but Comcast’s block was nevertheless implemented without notice on late Thursday afternoon. Hours after our reporting the blocking to friends at Comcast they diagnosed the issue, removed the block and restored their customers’ access to archive.org.

In addition to a significant number of archive.org users, some of our employees use Comcast for access and were unable to do some of their work during the block.  This was also reported on in Vice’s Motherboard.

We searched our communications for any reports from Comcast preceding the block and found only one email sent to us Thursday morning reporting a phishing page, which we took down promptly. Sent by an outside security company working for Comcast, the email did not mention any possibility of a block. The email and our removal of the item preceded the first known instance of the block by about eight hours.

This is the gist of what we know at this point. We continue to gather information and take this incident very seriously.

Posted in Announcements, News | 12 Comments

Dreaming of Semantic Audio Restoration at a Massive Scale

I believe we can do a fabulous job of bringing the music from the 78rpm era back to vibrant life if we really understand wear and if we could model the instruments and voices.

In other words, I believe we could reconstruct a performance by semantically modeling the noise and distortion we want to get rid of, as well as modeling the performer’s instruments.

To follow this reasoning—what if we knew we were examining a piano piece and knew what notes were being played on what kind of piano and exactly when and how hard for each note—we could take that information to make a reconstruction by playing it again and recording that version. This would be similar to what optical character recognition (OCR) does with images of pages with text—it knows the language and it figures out the words on the page and then makes a new page in a perfect font. In fact, with the OCR’ed text, you can change the font, make it bigger, and reflow the page to fit on a different device.

What if we OCR’ed the music? This might work well for the instrumental accompaniment, because then we would handle a voice, if any, differently. We could have a model of the singer’s voice based on not only this recording and other recordings of this song, but also all other recordings of that singer. With those models we could reconstruct the voice without any noise or distortion at all.

We would balance the reconstructed and the raw signals to maintain the subtle variations that make great performances.   This could also be done for context as sometimes digital filmmakers add in some scratched film effects.

So, there can be a wide variety of restoration tools if we make the jump into semantics and big data analysis.

The Great 78 Project will collect and digitize over 400,000 digitized 78rpm recordings to make them publicly available, creating a rich data set to do large scale analysis. These transfers are being done with four different styli shapes and sizes at the same time, and all recorded at 96KHz/24bit lossless samples, and in stereo (even though the records are in mono, this provides more information about the contours of the groove). This means each groove has 8 different high-resolution representations of every 11 microns. Furthermore, there are often multiple copies of the same recording that would have been stamped and used differently. So, modeling the wear on the record and using that to reconstruct what would have been on the master may be possible.

Many important records from the 20th century, such as jazz, blues, and ragtime, have only a few performers on each, so modeling those performers, instruments, and performances is quite possible.  Analyzing whole corpuses is now easier with modern computers, which can provide insights beyond restoration as well as understand playing techniques that are not commonly understood.

If we build full semantic models of instruments, performers, and pieces of music, we could even create virtual performances that never existed.  Imagine a jazz performer virtually playing a song that had not been written in their lifetime. We could have different musician combinations, or singers performing with different cadences. Areas for experimentation abound once we cross the threshold of full corpus analysis and semantic modeling.

We hope the technical work done on this project will have a far-reaching effect on a full media type since the Great 78 Project will digitize and hold a large percentage of all 78rpm records ever produced from 1908 to 1950.  Therefore, any techniques that are built upon these recordings can be used to restore many many records.

Please dive in and have fun with a great era of music and sound.

 

(we get a sample every 11microns when digitizing the outer rim of a 78rpm record at 96KHz.   And given we now have 8 different readings of that, with 24bit resolution, we hopefully can get a good idea of the groove.   There are optical techniques that are very cool, but those have their own issues, I am told

10″ * 3.14 = 31.4″ circumference = 80cm/revolution

@ 78rpm:  60 seconds/min / 78revolutions/minute = .77 seconds / revolution

80cm/rev   / (.77sec/rev)  = 104cm/sec

96Ksampes/sec

104cm/sec / (96ksamples/sec) = 11microns )

 

Posted in 78rpm, Announcements, Audio Archive, Music | 3 Comments

TV news fact-checked: climate change edition

by Katie Dahl & Nancy Watzman

With President Donald Trump’s announcement on Thursday that the U.S. would pull out of the international Paris climate agreement dominating TV news screens, we devote this round up to the issue of climate change.

Global climate agreement news trending

As of Friday morning, reports on Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement was trending across TV news channels, driving out reports on investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and possible Trump campaign involvement. The one exception was MSNBC, where “Russia” was a top trending topic, while “Paris” was at the top of the list for other cable stations, according to the Television Explorer tool created by Kalev Leetaru, which draws on closed captioning from the TV News Archive to allow users to search news coverage. (The tool now incorporates recent TV news broadcasts, so general trends can be seen as the data rolls in, although for definitive results it is best to wait 24 hours to search.)

“Paris” was trending everywhere but MSNBC, where “Russia” was leading. Source: Television Explorer, TV News Archive

Claim: Paris Agreement would cause $3 trillion drop in US GDP (flawed study) 

Fact-checkers quickly analyzed Trump’s Rose Garden speech (full video available here) where he laid out his reasons for withdrawing from the agreement.  Among them: he said the “cost to the economy at this time would be close to $3 trillion in lost GDP.”

A team of reporters at FactCheck.org provided context. “That figure is for the year 2040 and for one scenario in a report that found a smaller impact under a different scenario. Another analysis estimated the potential economic impact of meeting the Paris Agreement emissions targets would be ‘modest’ and the cost of delaying action would be ‘high.'”

Similarly, PolitiFact’s Jon Greenberg wrote: “Take these statistics with a grain of salt… Yale professor Kenneth Gillingham said the NERA model tends to result in higher costs than other economic models. The study assumes certain hypothetical regulations, but ‘one could easily model other actions with much lower costs.'”

The Washington Post’s Fact Checkers, Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, reported his statistics are from a “study that was funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Council for Capital Formation, foes of the Paris Accord. So the figures must be viewed with a jaundiced eye.”

Of course Trump and his surrogates have made many claims in the past on TV news shows, which were fact-checked. Also worth a look: this compilation Mother Jones created last December of Trump’s statements over the years on different media (including TV news) about global warming.

Claim: the Paris Agreement is one-sided (needs context)

In April 2017, President Donald Trump decried the Paris agreement on climate as “one-sided… where the United States pays billions of dollars while China, Russia and India have contributed and will contribute nothing.”

Reporter Vanessa Schipan from FactCheck.org wrote that the “U.S. has promised to contribute $3 billion to this fund [Green Climate Fund]” and “China and India haven’t contributed to the Green Climate Fund… Russia hasn’t contributed any funds either, but it also hasn’t ratified the Paris Agreement or submitted an outline of what actions it will take…” She also reported “that, per capita, the U.S. emitted more greenhouse gases than China and India combined in 2015.”

Claim: China and India have no obligations under agreement until 2030 (four Pinocchios)

In a related statement on April 13, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt said “China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030.”

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, reported “China, in its submission, said that, compared to 2005 levels, it would seek to cut its carbon emissions by 60 to 65 percent per unit of GDP by 2030. India said it would reduce its emissions per unit of economic output by 33 to 35 percent below 2005 by 2030… Note that both countries pledge to reach these goals by 2030, meaning they are taking steps now to meet their commitments.”

Claim: human activity, or carbon dioxide emissions, is not the primary contributor to global warming (science says, wrong)

In an interview on CNBC in March, EPA administrator Pruitt said “I would not agree that it’s [human activity or CO2] a primary contributor to the, to the global warming that we see.”

For FactCheck.org, Vanessa Schipani reported that “[S]cience says he’s wrong.” She wrote that “[a]ccording to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment report, it is ‘extremely likely’ (at least 95 percent probable) that more than half of the observed temperature increase since the mid-2oth century is due to human, or anthropogenic, activities.”

Claim: scientists cannot precisely measure climate change (they can with different levels of certainty)

In a lengthy article for their SciCheck project, FactCheck.org’s Vanessa Schipani reviewed statements by several Trump administration officials on this question of whether we can measure climate change with precision and whether we can measure the human impact. Among those who have made this claim are EPA’s Scott Pruitt, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Schipani reported “scientists can measure that impact with varying levels of certainty and precision” by going through the science for the greenhouse effect, global warming to climate change, and measuring and predicting extreme weather.

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MIT Press Classics Available Soon at Archive.org

For more than eighty years, MIT Press has been publishing acclaimed titles in science, technology, art and architecture.  Now, thanks to a new partnership between the Internet Archive and MIT Press, readers will be able to borrow these classics online for the first time. With generous support from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing, this partnership represents an important advance in providing free, long-term public access to knowledge.

“These books represent some of the finest scholarship ever produced, but right now they are very hard to find,” said Brewster Kahle, founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. “Together with MIT Press, we will enable the patrons of every library that owns one of these books to borrow it online–one copy at a time.”

This joint initiative is a crucial early step in Internet Archive’s ambitious plans to digitize, preserve and provide public access to four million books, by partnering widely with university presses and other publishers, authors, and libraries.  The Internet Archive is one of eight groups named semi-finalists in 100&Change, a global competition for a single $100 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The competition seeks bold solutions to critical problems of our time.

MIT Press’ Kelly McDougall (l) and Editor, Amy Brand, holding one of the publisher’s classic books.

MIT Press Director, Amy Brand said, “One of my top ambitions for the MIT Press has been to ensure that our entire legacy of publications is digitized, accessible, searchable, discoverable now and in perpetuity. Partnering with Internet Archive to achieve this objective is a dream come true not only for me and my colleagues at the Press, but also for many of our authors whose earlier works are completely unavailable or not easily accessible.”  

Lending online permits libraries to fulfill their mission in the digital age, allowing anyone  to borrow through the ether copies of works they own,” said Professor Peter Baldwin, co-founder of Arcadia.  “The IA-MIT collaboration is a big step in the direction of realizing a universal library, accessible to anyone, anywhere.”

One of the hundreds of titles coming soon to archive.org

We will be scanning an initial group of 1,500 MIT Press titles at Internet Archive’s Boston Public Library facility, including Cyril Stanley Smith’s 1980 book, From Art to Science: Seventy-Two Objects Illustrating the Nature of Discovery, and Frederick Law Olmsted and Theodora Kimball’s Forty Years of Landscape Architecture: Central Park, which was published in 1973. The oldest title in the group is Arthur C. Hardy’s 1936 Handbook of Colorimetry.

John Palfrey, Head of School at Phillips Academy Andover and well-known public access advocate, described the partnership as “a truly ground-breaking development in open scholarship that I hope will inspire other university presses to follow suit, since so many excellent and important books are effectively out of circulation by virtue of being analog-only in a digital world.”

The Internet Archive has already begun digitizing MIT Press’ backlist and they will be available at archive.org soon. The set of 1500 deep backlist works should be available by the end of 2017.

Posted in Announcements, News | 8 Comments

TV news fact-checked: Gianforte, Gingrich, Pelosi & more

By Nancy Watzman and Katie Dahl

In this week’s round-up from the TV News Archive,  our fact-checking partners declare that Greg Gianforte, now Montana’s U.S. House representative-elect, was the aggressor in a conflict with a reporter; Newt Gingrich spread a conspiracy theory; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stretched claims about how veterans could be hurt under the House GOP health care bill; and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney double-counted money.

Claim: Guardian reporter’s aggression, not Gianforte’s, caused altercation (flip that)

On May 24 a campaign spokesperson for Greg Gianforte, who has since won the Montana U.S. House race, said, “Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, The Guardian‘s Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions. Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

As reported by John Kruzel and Smitha Rajan for PolitiFact, a Fox News reporter was in the room at the time and gave this account. “…Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter.” Gianforte has since apologized.

Claim: DNC staffer assassinated after giving emails to WikiLeaks (unsupported)

Newt Gingrich, a former Republican House Speaker, said in a TV interview, “we have this very strange story now of this young man who worked for the Democratic National Committee, who apparently was assassinated at 4 in the morning, having given WikiLeaks something like 23,000. I’m sorry, 53,000 emails and 17,000 attachments.”

“Gingrich Spreads Conspiracy Theory,” read a headline from FactCheck.org. Eugene Kiely reported “there’s no evidence for his claim.” PunditFact, a project of PolitiFact, gave Gingrich its worst fact-check rating, Pants on Fire.  Lauren Carroll reported, “Hours after Fox published its report, (Rod) Wheeler recanted. He told CNN that he hadn’t seen the evidence himself, and his knowledge of Rich’s alleged email contact with WikiLeaks came from the national Fox News reporter, not his own investigative work.”

(Note: Kiely also made use of the Wayback Machine in his piece, linking to a now-deleted Fox News story now saved at the Internet Archive. Washington Post reporters Kristine Phillips and Peter Holley published similar links in their story on how Fox News retracted its story on Seth Rich.)

Claim: seven million veterans will lose tax credit for their families in health care bill (three Pinocchios)

During a speech at a conference hosted by the Center for American Progress, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., said of the House-passed GOP health care reform bill, “Seven million veterans will lose their tax credit for their families in this bill.”

Michelle Ye Hee Lee reported for The Washington Post’s Fact Checker that “veterans ‘could’ — not ‘will,’ as Pelosi says — lose tax credits if the current protections don’t carry over under a new health law… Would it affect 7 million veterans and their families? Not necessarily.”

Claim: economic growth will pay for both eliminating the deficit and tax cuts (wait a minute)

In a press conference about President Trump’s proposed 2018 fiscal budget, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said “we get to an actual balance on this budget within the 10-year window,” because “we will bring back 3% economic growth to this country and those numbers are assumed in this budget. By the way if we don’t the budget will never balance. You will never see a balanced budget again. We refuse to accept that the new normal in this country. Three percent was the old normal. Three percent will be the new normal again under the Trump administration and that is part and parcel with the foundation of this budget.” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also claimed economic growth would pay for the proposed revenue-neutral tax plan, “This will pay for itself with growth and with reduced — reduction of different deductions and closing loopholes.”

“Wait a minute, say tax and budget experts, that’s double-counting the same money,” reported Robert Farley of FactCheck.org. Roberton Williams of the Tax Policy Center told FactCheck.org that you can’t assume growth will balance the budget and offset tax cuts, “Both of those are not plausible,” he said

Claim: Manafort and others visited Moscow during the campaign (mostly false)

In a TV interview, Rep. Maxine Waters, D., Calif., said “I really do believe that much of what you saw coming out of Trump’s mouth was a play from Putin’s playbook… I think you can see visits, you know, to Moscow made during the campaign by (Paul) Manafort and others.”

“From what’s on the public record, Manafort didn’t go at all, and (Carter) Page went once… Waters made it sound like this was a regular occurrence. We rate this claim Mostly False.” Jon Greenberg reported for PolitiFact.

Claim: Wisconsin high-risk pool had 8 or 9 plans, people could go to any doctor, and premiums and copays were cheaper than Obamacare (half true)

In response to criticism from Democrats for the House-passed health care proposal, Rep. Paul Ryan, R., Wis., said “In Wisconsin, we had a really successful high-risk pool. Ten percent of the people in the individual market in Wisconsin were in the state high-risk pool. They had eight or nine plans to choose from. They could go to any doctor or any hospital they wanted. And their premiums and copays were cheaper than they are under Obamacare today.”

For PolitiFact, Tom Kertscher reported “He’s essentially on target on the first two parts, but not on the third… it can’t be flatly stated that the high-risk pool plans were cheaper than Obamacare plans for comparable coverage.”

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Internet (Film) Archive – A Screening: Monday June 5 at 7 pm

Join us for an evening of fun, nostalgia and learning with a screening of the rarest, corniest and weirdest films from the Internet Archive’s collection of Educational Media. This curated screening of digitized and 16mm films will also include favorites as voted by IA users and staff.

RSVP at eventbrite.com

Browse the collection at archive.org/details/educationalfilms.

Nominate your favorite films at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WZFS2MD

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Re: User account breach

The FBI helpfully told us that they found a copy of the Archive’s user database, dated prior to 2012, during one of their investigations. This database did not have much information that is not on the website, but it had lightly encrypted passwords of the users at the time. We have since upped the encryption level.

We have not noticed any uptick in compromised account activity at the Archive, so we’d bet against past malicious use. We will be emailing all Archive patrons who held accounts prior to 2012, containing much of the same information you see here.

We are sorry for this inconvenience.

Posted in News | 4 Comments

TV news fact-checked: Comey, Schumer, McMaster, Mueller

It was a yet another extraordinary week in U.S. politics, with a series of explosive news reports centering on President Donald Trump. The TV News Archive is saving history as it happens, as well as linking relevant fact-checks by FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, and The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker to statements by public officials.

On Sunday shows, Schumer demands release of tapes–if they exist

Senate Majority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer, D., N.Y., made the rounds of Sunday news talk shows, appearing on “Meet the Press” and “State of the Union,” calling for a special prosecutor to investigate possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia among other matters. In this clip, Schumer says Trump should turn over tapes–the possibility of which were raised by Trump in a tweet on May 12–if they exist, of the president’s conversations with now former FBI director James Comey.

In this piece titled “Trump vs. Comey,” FactCheck.org reporters Eugene Kiely and Robert Farley trace the history of statements by the president and Comey about their discussions. They note, “White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has repeatedly refused to answer whether Trump has such recordings. In his interview with Jeanine Pirro, Trump said, “Well, that I can’t talk about. I won’t talk about that.”

McMaster reacts to report that Trump shared intelligence with Russians

After The Washington Post reported, on May 15, that Trump had revealed “highly classified information” to Russian envoys visiting the White House last week, national security adviser H.R. McMaster defended the president that day and at a press conference the following day. Among his assertions: “The story that came out tonight as reported is false.”

“The key phrase is “as reported,” wrote Glenn Kessler, for The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, in a piece that dissects McMaster’s statements before the press. “With this language, McMaster in theory could dispute any element, no matter how small, as false. He notably did not say the story was false.” John Kruzel, writing for PolitiFact, traced the “shifting” explanations from the White House on what happened at the meeting with the Russians, including McMaster’s statements.

Former FBI director Robert Mueller appointed special counsel

Wednesday, May 17 brought the news that the U.S. Department of Justice appointed Robert Mueller as a special counsel to investigate possible connections between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. Here PolitiFact reporter Lauren Carroll gives the basics on Mueller’s background and experience.

The TV News Archive contains numerous historical clips of Mueller, who served as FBI director under  Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, including this brief farewell interview he gave to ABC in 2013, where he talks about terrorism.

Mueller and Comey have an earlier association at a high-drama moment in U.S. history. In 2014, Comey told “60 Minutes” about the day that he and Mueller visited a bedridden John Ashcroft, then attorney general, to tell him they would resign rather than reauthorize a controversial domestic surveillance program under pressure from the White House. Ashcroft deferred to Comey, and, as recounted by The Los Angeles Times, “It was only when President George W. Bush agreed to listen to Comey and Mueller and restructure the program did resignation plans go away.”

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“And the Webby Award for Lifetime Achievement Goes to….”

“The Internet Archive…is building a home for Universal Access to All Knowledge, open to everyone, everywhere, to use as they like. Open to all societies of the future that care to build on our triumphs and learn from our mistakes.”

                                                                  – Lawrence Lessig

Last night in New York City, we put on our best duds and donned our fanciest archivist hats for a once in a lifetime event. The Internet Archive was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 21st annual Webbys, hailed by the New York Times as “one of the Internet’s highest honors.” The Webby Awards lauded the Internet Archive for being “the web’s most knowledgeable historian.”

Three of our veteran staff members, Tracey Jaquith, TV Archive Architect, Internet Archive founder and Digital Librarian, Brewster Kahle, and Alexis Rossi, Director of Media and Access, accepted the award. Kahle delivered the five-word acceptance speech with panache:  “Universal Access to All Knowledge.”

Perhaps the greatest honor of the evening came in the form of a video narrated by Open Knowledge champion, Lawrence Lessig.  He said, “Creativity and innovation built on the past.  The Internet Archive is the foundation preserving that past, so that perhaps, one can at least hope that our children and their children can shape a future that knows our joys and learns from our many mistakes.”

The award was presented by Nancy Lublin, CEO of the Crisis Text Line and DoSomething.org, who pointed out that in this chaotic political year, the Internet Archive has saved “200 terabytes of government data that could have otherwise been lost in the transition from blue light saber to red light saber.”

The award reads:

Webby Lifetime Achievement: Archive.org for its commitment to making the world’s knowledge available online and preserving the history of the Internet itself. With a vast collection of digitized materials and tools like the Wayback Machine, Archive.org has become a vital resource not only to catalogue an ever-changing medium, but to safeguard a free and open Internet for everyone.

The complete list of Webby Award winners is available here.

Posted in Announcements, News | 15 Comments

TV news fact-checked: Comey edition

We devote this week’s edition of the TV News Archive roundup to the controversy that’s erupted surrounding President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement on Tuesday, May 9, that he was firing FBI director James Comey. The TV News Archive provides a wealth of material for exploring media coverage of this major moment in U.S. history.

Comey fame tied to Clinton and Trump

Comey may still not quite be a household name, but mention of “Comey” spiked higher than ever on TV newscasts this week after he was fired. Comey has enjoyed notoriety in the past, his biggest moments tied closely to the fates of 2016 presidential rivals Hillary Clinton and Trump.

The most recent spike before this week was on March 20, when he testified before Congress, confirming that the FBI was investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Another major spike occurred in November 2016, days before the election, when Comey announced the FBI was reopening an investigation into then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business while serving as secretary of state. Comey also garnered attention in July 2016, when he announced that the FBI would not be pursuing charges against Clinton.

The visual below, showing mentions of “Comey,” was created with Television Explorer, an online tool fueled by TV News Archive data and created by Kalev Leetaru. This tool can be used to find patterns in words and phrases captured by closed captioning and contained in the TV News Archive.

Source: Television Explorer, Kalev Leetaru

Trump’s letter to Comey fact-checked

In the hours following the firing, one major point of focus for fact-checkers and other media was the portion of the letter to Comey where Trump stated, “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

Below is a CNN broadcast, as captured in the TV News Archive, where the CNN newscaster Dave Briggs reads the letter on the air.

PolitiFact, The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker, and FactCheck.org have all weighed in on the president’s assertion, noting that too much remains unknown to confirm it. “With Comey out, it’s unclear whether the public will ever learn if the FBI was investigating Trump personally, rather than just his associates — or anything else about the investigation, for that matter,” wrote PolitiFact’s Lauren Carroll on May 11. (See fact-checks connected to televised statements by public officials here.)

Meanwhile, the story continues to unfold. On May 11, Sarah Huckabee, deputy White House press secretary, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that the president had confirmed this assertion with her directly. And Trump himself told NBC News’ Lester Holt that the assurances came during a private dinner and twice over the phone. And on Friday morning, Trump tweeted that Comey “better hope there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

Some Watergate history, please

Many commentators this week have noted parallels between Trump’s firing of Comey and the Saturday Night Massacre of 1973, when President Richard Nixon ordered independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox fired, during the Watergate investigation; his boss, Attorney General Elliot Richardson, and Deputy General William Ruckelshaus, both of whom refused to fire Cox, resigned in protest. Acting head of the Department of Justice, Robert Bork, carried out the order to fire Cox. (Note: the Richard Nixon Library playfully, but accurately, fired off a tweet noting that Nixon had never fired an FBI director, and then later was criticized for doing so by the National Archives and Records Administration, the federal agency that administers presidential libraries.)

While the TV News Archive’s collection of 1.3 million TV news shows dates back to 2009, long after the Nixon era, some footage from that time is available from later airings. Here, for example, is footage of Cox’s press conference right before he was dismissed.

And here is a quick explainer of the Saturday Night Massacre, as broadcast by MSNBC in 2013.

Searching Trump Archive for past Trump statements about Comey

The largely hand-curated Trump Archive, a collection of Trump statements and appearances on TV news broadcasts, makes it easier to find past instances of Trump talking about Comey. The TV News Archive is working on ways to make the creation of such collections less labor intensive, by using machine learning tools to identify instances of public officials speaking within the collection of 1.3 million tv news shows.

A search of closed captions on the terms “Trump” and “Comey” would yield both instances when Trump is speaking about Comey and newscasters who are reporting on the two men. But searching within the Trump Archive quickly yields Trump statements about Comey.

Here is some of what we found:

April 28, 2016: Trump says “I think if [Comey’s]  straight up she’s not going to be able to run.”

 

June 13, 2016: Trump talking about FBI investigation of Orlando nightclub shooting, “I’m a big fan of the FBI, there’s no bigger fan than me, but look they’ve seen better days. Let’s face it.”

October 13, 2016:  Trump speaking about Comey, “The great men and women who work for the FBI are embarrassed and ashamed of what he has done to one of our truly great institutions, the FBI itself.”

October 20, 2016: Trump at Al Smith Dinner, joking at an annual fundraiser for Catholic charities:  “I’d like to address an important religious matter, the issue of going to confession. Or, as Hillary calls it, the Fourth of July weekend with FBI director Comey.”

October 29, 2016: Following Director Comey’s letter to congressional leaders about newly discovered Clinton emails, Trump says, “I have to tell you, I respect the fact that Director Comey was able to come back after what he did. I respect that very much.”

November 14, 2016: Trump won’t say if he will ask Comey to resign.  “I think that I would rather not comment on that yet. I don’t– I haven’t made up my mind. I respect him a lot. I respect the FBI a lot.”

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