January 9, 2017
The Internet Archive launches a Trump-only trove of TV clips
by Julia Fleischaker
Here at MobyLives, we love archivists. And we especially love the folks at the Internet Archive.
The Internet Archive is a giant website that houses, among other things, tons of amazing video, history’s most delightful software, books both interesting and not, and, hardly least of all, the Wayback Machine, a massive collection of websites as they appeared at various particular moments in human history. Say you want to get a look at MobyLives as it was on July 19, 2001? They conveniently got that. NYTimes.com as of December 30, 1996? Yup (and: ha). And here’s what was living at facebook.com in October 2000. Not to mention these assholes. You get the idea.
So we were distressed when they announced their move to Canada, a reaction to fears of a Trump-influenced internet crackdown.
On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change. It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change.
For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a Web that may face greater restrictions.
But moving to Canada hasn’t changed or dimmed their mission, and on January 5, they announced the launch of their new Trump Archive.
The Trump Archive launches today with 700+ televised speeches, interviews, debates, and other news broadcasts related to President-elect Donald Trump, created using the Internet Archive’s TV News Archive.
A work in progress, the growing collection now includes more than 520 hours of Trump video. The earliest excerpt dates from December 2009, and the collection continues through the present. It includes more than 500 video statements fact checked by FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, and The Washington Post’s Fact Checker covering such controversial topics as immigration, Trump’s tax returns, Hillary Clinton’s emails, and health care.
Keeping track of Trump’s contradictory, dangerous, or just inane statements, promises, questions, and taunts is a daunting task. But the archive, which anyone is free to browse, quote, and share online, should make that easier.
By providing a free and enduring source for TV news broadcasts of Trump’s statements, the Internet Archive hopes to make it more efficient for the media, researchers, and the public to track Trump’s statements while fact-checking and reporting on the new administration. The Trump Archive can also serve as a rich treasure trove of video material for any creative use: comedy, art, documentaries, wherever people’s inspiration takes them.
Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing writes that collecting and cataloging the truth, even in a “post-truth” world, is necessary.
Cynics will argue that Trump’s followers don’t care if he’s lying, but they assuredly care if he’s lying about the stuff they’re hoping he’ll do (otherwise there’d be no trumpgrets); what’s more, there’s no hope of having a US politics based on rationality and reality if we stop paying attention to facts — otherwise, we’re surrendering to the “we create our own reality” army.
Nancy Watzman, Managing Editor of the TV Archive, quoted William Faulkner in her announcement (“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”) and added, “We believe that the Trump Archive, in preserving the past, can help the public engage more knowledgeably with our future.”
You can find the Internet Archive here and the Trump Archive here, and you can donate to the cause of keeping it all safe here.
Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.