Tag Archives: TV news archive

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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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.

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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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Knight Prototype Fund winners use TV News Archive to fight misinformation

We are delighted to report that two of  20 winners recently announced Knight Prototype Fund’s $1 million challenge to combat misinformation will directly draw on the TV News Archive.

One of these is the Bad Idea Factory’s “Glorious ContextuBot.” Let’s say you come across a tweet that is brandishing a TV news clip to bolster a strong statement on a controversial issue – but you have no idea where or when or whether that clip was aired, by whom, and whether or not it’s legitimate.

The ContextuBot will take the Duplitron 5000, an audio fingerprinting tool developed to track political ads for the Political TV Ad Archive, and build upon it to help users find any relevant TV news coverage of that video snippet. If the video was aired, users will be able to see what came before and after the report.

The team, led by the Dan Schultz, senior creative technologist of the TV News Archive, will bring in veteran media innovators Mark Boas and Laurian Gridnoc of Hyperaudio and Trint. Together they will not only build the ContextuBot, but will also work to improve the speed and accuracy of the Duplitron.

From sticky notes to Glorious Contextubot: on right, Dan Schultz, TV News Archive senior creative technologist, plots prototype plans

Second, Joostware‘s “Who Said What” project will use deep learning algorithms to annotate TV news clips to identify speakers and what they are talking about. Developing this capability will help fact checkers sort through and identify claims by public officials, pundits, and others that bear examination.

We are delighted to work with Joostware as part of our ongoing goal to collaborate with researchers, companies, and others who are exploring how to use Artificial Intelligence tools to draw on the Internet Archive’s collections to enhance journalism and research.

The Knight Prototype Fund will award $50,000 apiece to each of the 20 winners, who are now charged with developing their ideas over the next nine months. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund, and the Rita Allen Foundation all support the effort. Winners attended a human-centered design training workshop last week in Phoenix, Arizona, as part of the support offered by the foundations.

 

TV news fact-checked: health care & more + this press briefing will not be televised

by Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman

This week the Senate released its version of health care, so to mark the occasion we offer a trio of recent health care fact checks from The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker. Other fact-checking highlights include: a claim that Saudia Arabia has been spending money on Trump hotels (true, says PolitiFact) and Ivanka Trump asserts American workers have a skill gap (also true, reports Politifact).

But before we present these fact-checks, we pause for a moment to present this commentary from CNN’s Jim Acosta on the White House’s refusal to allow cameras in a growing number of press briefings: “That wouldn’t be tolerated in city council meetings, or at a governor’s press conference,” he noted. “And here we have the representative of the president of the United States saying no you can’t cover it that way….it’s like we’re not even covering a White House anymore…it’s like we’re just covering bad reality television, is what it feels like now.”

Claim: 1.8 million jobs will be lost as a result of the AHCA (two Pinocchios)

Earlier this month, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., said, “Americans will lose their health coverage because of his proposal. And it is a job loser. Estimated to be 1.8 million jobs lost. Donald Trump is a job loser.”

Glenn Kessler reported for the Washington Post’s Fact Checker: “We often warn readers to be wary of job claims made by politicians based on think-tank studies. This is a case in point. Pelosi was careful to say ‘estimated,’ but two groups of researchers, using apparently the same economic model, came up with different estimates of jobs losses under the AHCA by 2022 – 1.8 million and 413,000.”

Claim: the reconciliation process will be used for the AHCA (upside down Pinocchio or flip-flop)

At a recent press briefing, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R., Ky., described the upcoming legislative process for the American Health Care Act, “Unfortunately, it will have to be a Republicans-only exercise. But we’re working hard to get there.”

Kessler responded that “McConnell’s position has changed, even though he will not acknowledge it. He was against the reconciliation process for health care in 2010; he has embraced it now. He was against secrecy and closed-door dealmaking before; he now oversees the most secretive health-care bill process ever. And he was against voting on a bill that was broadly unpopular — and now he is pushing for a bill even more unpopular than the ACA in 2010.”

Claim: insurers are leaving the health care exchanges because of Obamacare (three Pinocchios)

President Donald Trump talked with Republican senators about health care, saying among other claims, “Insurers are fleeing the market. Last week it was announced that one of the largest insurers is pulling out of Ohio — the great state of Ohio.”

 Kessler wrote that Trump “ignores that many say they are exiting the business because of uncertainty created by the Trump administration, in particular whether it will continue to pay ‘cost-sharing reductions’ to insurance companies. These payments help reduce co-pays and deductibles for low-income patients on the exchanges. Without those subsidies, insurance companies have to foot more of the bill.” 

Claim: Saudi Arabia is spending big on Trump Hotels (mostly true)

The attorney general for the District of Columbia, Karl Racine, said at a recent press conference that “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose government has important business and policy before the president of the United States, has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at the Trump International Hotel.”

Smitha Rajan reported for PolitiFact, “The Foreign Agent Registration Act report mentions at least one filing which clearly shows that the Saudi government spent $270,000 at the Trump International Hotel for lodging and boarding expenses between October 2016 and March 2017. It’s not clear whether the entire expenses were paid before or after Trump became president. Our research showed it was some of  both.”

Claim: there are 6 million job openings but workers don’t have the skills needed (true)

During a recent interview on Fox & Friends, Ivanka Trump, assistant to the president and daughter of the president, said “There are 6 million available American jobs, so we’re constantly hearing from CEO’s that they have job openings, but they don’t have workers with the skill set they need to fill those jobs.”

For PolitiFact, Louis Jacobson rated her claim “true,” reporting “The number she cites is correct, and she’s right to say that the skills gap plays a role. Economists warn against overestimating the role played by the skills gap in all 6 million job openings, both because other factors play a role (such as the image gap) and because the skills barriers posed are often more modest than having to earn an academic degree or to obtain specialized training.”

TV News Lab: Hyperaudio improving TV news video captioning and sharing

In a new blog series, TV News Lab, we’ll 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. Here we interview Mark Boas, founder of the Hyperaudio project, an organization that works to make audio and video more accessible and shareable on the web, by providing an easy-to-use interface for copying and pasting bits of transcripts to create mash ups of shareable video. You can find the open source code powering Hyperaudio on GitHub.

Mark Boas talks to the Internet Archive about Hyperaudio.

NW: What is the problem you’re trying to solve by applying Hyperaudio technology to the TV News Archive?

MB: People find TV news credible. It’s very hard to fake TV news. I’d love to see people using TV news to back up any sort of political or other expression a public official is trying to make, by showing the source material and also the arguments about those statements. I think this also has implications for improving media literacy.

(An example mix made at Chattanooga Public Library.)

NW: What stands in the way of people sharing TV news video right now?

MB:  One of the problems is that audio and video on the web has been a black box in a way. It has not been very well integrated into the web because it’s difficult to do that. If you see a big block of text, it’s easy to highlight, copy, paste and send it off. But if you have an interesting piece of audio to share, how do you do that? There are ways to do it, but it’s not intuitive.

Coupled with that is it’s also hard to find audio on the internet. If you’re searching for search terms, you may or may not find what you want, but only if someone has added sufficient metadata so it’s discoverable. Transcripts allow you to search, but also provide a way to share. And the key to that is that you need not just the transcript, but also you need to match the words in the transcript to the proper times in the audio.

NW: Why is it hard to match the transcript to the audio in a video?

The first step is getting a good quality transcript. It’s great that the TV News Archive uses open captions, but it’s not perfect. (Note: the TV News Archive is searchable via closed captioning, but there’s often a several-second lag between the captions and the video, as well as other quality issues.) The transcript usually needs to be cleaned up. The better the transcript, the better the match. Closed captions are done in real time by humans who make mistakes.

The next challenge is to try and minimize the time it takes to match the words in the transcript to the audio. If we want to automate the process, we need to figure out how to do that more quickly. It’s very intensive on the computing side. I’m experimenting with chunking up the video to speed up the process. I think we’ll see that the matching is an exponential task: a one hour transcript might take 30 minutes and a three hour transcript might take more than three times that. But if we split it up into smaller chunks, the processing might become more efficient

How do people try out Hyperaudio?

Hyperaudio is not a commercial software as a service. It’s more of a demo of the underlying technology. We work with groups like the Studs Terkel Radio Archive (WFMT Chicago), to help them make the most of their content and data; whatever we make flows back into our open source code on GitHub. What we do is very experimental, but it will give you an idea what’s possible. If you want to experiment with TV News Archive, you can do that at http://newsarchive.hyperaud.io/. More info on our experiments and collaborations can be found on our blog.