Got nothing planned for this weekend? Then why not spend it watching archive footage of America’s caustic president-elect, Donald Trump.
On Thursday, the Internet Archive announced the creation of the “Trump Archive” — a huge collection of footage of Trump’s media appearances and interviews.
“Reporters, researchers, Wikipedians, and the general public are invited to quote, compare and contrast televised statements made by Trump,” Nancy Watzman wrote in a blog post.
“We hope to provide assistance for those tracking Trump’s evolving statements on public policy issues.”
In other words, the archive is intended as a way to hold Trump accountable, giving the general public access to review his public statements over the years, and assess if and how they have changed.
There are currently more than 520 hours of footage in the archive, dating back to 2009, taken from “700+ televised speeches, interviews, debates, and other news broadcasts.” It is, Watzman says, a “work in progress” — so expect it to continue to grow in the weeks and months ahead.
The Internet Archive is considering preparing similar archives for other high-profile politicians and public officials. “For example, we’ll explore the idea of creating curated collections for Trump’s nominees to head federal agencies; members of Congress of both parties (for example, perhaps the Senate and House majority and minority leadership); Supreme Court nominees, and so on.”
The Internet Archive’s primary purpose is — surprise, surprise! — creating and maintaining an archive of the internet, a historical document that lets anyone review how websites have changed over time. In December 2016, it announced it was creating a backup of its work in Canada in response to Donald Trump’s shock election and what it might mean for freedom of the press.
“When the election went in an unexpected direction from what the polls were suggesting, we looked up in the Television Archive — because we have all of the campaign rallies and all the political rallies and everything — we looked up what was Trump’s position on the internet and freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” founder Brewster Kahle told TechCrunch.
“It’s how you keep data safe; you make copies … The idea of keeping large-scale collections alive takes real work and interest in universal access to knowledge. That’s what we’re dedicated to help make happen and that, historically, is not the norm.”
The Trump Archive bills itself as an “evolving non-commercial, searchable collection [that] is designed to preserve the historical record for posterity.” As well as viewing old clips, users are also able to use a video editor to create supercuts of Trump talking on various subjects — making it even easier to examine his track record.
In an age of suspicion and doubt at the media and politicians, additional scrutiny of powerful figures, reviewable by anyone, can only be a good thing.