Figuring out Donald J. Trump's mastery of free television is the great parlor game of 2016. The question is: Who is playing whom? The Republican front-runner realized long ago that he could snare media attention by offering comments "a little more outrageous," as he said in his 1987 bestseller, "The Art of the Deal." On the campaign trail, he offers an unbeatable combination: a celebrity name and the ability to rile up viewers with incendiary sound bites. A data analysis shows that Trump hasn't needed news to dominate the airwaves.
Over the last few months the phrase "fake news" has rocketed into the global lexicon and even earned the title "word of the year" for 2016. This raises the question of who coined this iconic phrase, what its origins are and how it achieved such superstardom. While lavishing more than 6.5 million news articles on the topic over the last few months according to Google News, few in the media world have stepped back to ask where exactly this meme-ready term came from, other than comments like "the term hasn't been around long" or that Google Trends data shows it entered the public lexicon sometime last October. The concept of false and misleading news coverage is as old as news itself and over the 20th century became deeply enmeshed in the formalizing world of wartime propaganda. If we look at the Google NGrams Viewer, which tracks the popularity of words and phrases in books published over the last 200 years, we see that the literal phrase "fake news" took off at the start of World War I and reached its peak in the leadup to World War II, likely reflecting the rise of propaganda research and the impact that false information could have on societies.
It seems a lifetime ago that Donald Trump descended the escalator in his eponymous tower, to the soundtrack of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World," before formally announcing his Presidential bid. Melania stood a few steps ahead of him, like a teen at the mall who doesn't want to be seen with her parent, as the two glided into an atrium of cheering supporters, some of whom were later revealed to be hired actors. In the time that has elapsed since--just nineteen months, as it turns out--Trump has mentioned that escalator ride not infrequently. "You know the famous escalator scene, right?" he asked the crowd at a rally in Manassas, Virginia, in December, 2015. I said to my wife, 'Are you sure I wanna be doing this?' I said, 'Let's go.'
The UCLA Film & Television Archive continues its "Marquee Movies: Movies on Moviegoing" series with a pair of 1930s pictures. Starring James Cagney as a Broadway producer getting creative after the encroachment of talking pictures, "Footlight Parade" followed in the footsteps of Warner Bros. backstage musicals "42nd Street" and "Golddiggers of 1933." "This Way Please," a 1937 Paramount musical romance, featured Charles "Buddy" Rogers in his last film for the studio and Betty Grable in her first. "Footlight Parade" (1933), with "This Way Please" (1937).
Yesterday the Internet Archive officially debuted their new Donald Trump Archive, consisting of more than 700 "televised speeches, interviews, debates, and other news broadcasts related to President-elect Donald Trump." Drawing from the Archive's Television News Archive, the goal of this new collection is to provide a single centralized collection of the myriad television appearances and statements made by the President-elect. This is complemented by the Archive's vast US Government archives, totaling tens to hundreds of terabytes of material preserved from across the US Government, including a special "end of term" archive that will eventually hold a snapshot of all White House social media output and the web output of the Government as a whole during the Obama administration, ranging from every official statement published by each agency to every PowerPoint presentation posted on public US military websites. In fact, the Archive will actually be holding a hackathon focusing on this data tomorrow at their San Francisco headquarters. What does it mean to turn television into data?