TV News Record: Whoops, they said it again (on taxes)

TV News Record: Whoops, they said it again (on taxes)

A biweekly round up on what’s happening at the TV News Archive by Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman

This week, we demonstrate GOP and Democrat talking points on taxes; display a case of mistaken facial identity; and present fact checks on the GOP tax proposal

Whoops, they said it again

Was that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., who said “tax cuts for the rich”? Or was that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y.? Wait: they both said it. Often.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wis., keeps talking about tax reform being a “once in a generation opportunity,” and, coincidence!, so does Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky. It’s a recurring theme.

These types of repeated phrases, often vetted via communication staff, are known as “talking points,” and it’s the way politicians, lobbyists, and other denizens of the nation’s capital sell policy. The TV News Archive is working toward the goal of applying artificial intelligence (AI) to our free, online library of TV news to help ferret out talking points so we can better understand how political messages are crafted and disseminated.

For now, we don’t have an automated way to identify such repeated phrases from the thousands of hours of television news coverage. However, searching within our curated archives of top political leaders can provide a quick way to check for a phrase you think you’re hearing often. Visit archive.org/tv to find our Trump archive, executive branch archive, and congressional archives, click into an archive, then search for the phrase within that archive.

Sample search results in the congressional archive

Funny, you look familiar

Wait, is this former President George W. Bush trying out a new look?

No, it’s not. This is Bob Massi, a legal analyst for Fox Business News and host of “Bob Massi is the Property Man.”  In a test run of new faces for our Face-o-Matic facial detection tool, Massi’s uncanny resemblance (minus the hair) to the former president earned him a “false positive” – the algorithm identified this appearance as Bush incorrectly.

This doesn’t get us too worried, as we still include human testers and editors in our secret sauce: we’ll retrain our algorithm to disregard photos of Massi in the TV news stream. It does point toward why we want to be very careful, particularly with facial recognition, where a private individual may be tracked inadvertently or a public official misrepresented. Our concern about developing ethical practices with facial recognition is why, for the present, we are restricting our face-finding to elected officials. We invite discussion with the greater community about ethical practices in applying AI to the TV News Archive at tvnews@archive.org.

In our current Face-o-Matic set we track the faces of President Donald Trump and the four congressional leaders in their TV news appearances. After receiving feedback from journalists and researchers, our next set will include living ex-presidents and recent major presidential party nominees: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush,  Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. Stay tuned, while we fine tune our model.

Fact-check: everyone will get a tax cut (false)

In an interview on November 7, on Fox News’s new “The Ingraham Angle,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wis., says: “Everyone enjoys a tax cut all across the board.”

Pulling in information from the Tax Policy Center and a tax model created by the American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Post’s Fact Checker Glenn Kessler counters Ryan’s claim: “In the case of married families with children — whom Republicans are assiduously wooing as beneficiaries of their plan — about 40 percent are estimated to receive tax hikes by 2027, even if the provisions are retained.”

Ryan changed his language, according to Kessler, following an inquiry on November 8 from the Fact CheckerNow he is saying, “the average taxpayer in all income levels gets a tax cut.”

Fact-check: tax bill not being scored by CBO as is tradition (false)

In an interview on November 12 on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D., Ill., claimed that the GOP tax plan is “not being scored by the Congressional Budget Office, as it is traditionally. It’s because it doesn’t add up.”

“Under the most obvious interpretation of that statement, Durbin is incorrect. The nonpartisan analysis for tax bills is actually a task handled by the Joint Committee on Taxation, and the committee has been actively analyzing the Republican tax bills,” reported Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact.