As the world gears up for President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration in two weeks and the unprecedented presidency that will follow, one of the most important things in the years to come will be accountability, both of the president and the media.
A new trio of databases offer nonpartisan data to counteract the continually fracturing rhetoric surrounding — and directly from — Trump. One tracks Trump’s campaign promises and two others generally track what he says.
By presenting Trump in his own words, these projects hope that bias will be removed from the equation when evaluating the next president’s actions.
First up, there’s the matter of Trump’s many campaign promises. After all, he’s already backing off threats to prosecute Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server.
That’s where TrumpTracker comes in. Created by Viren Mohindra, it collects Trump’s numerous campaign promises, cross-referenced with sourcing from major media outlets, Trump’s own website, and even video of Trump’s speeches.
It’s also unique in that it uses Reddit as a means to crowdsource information for source verification.
Inspired by a site tracking Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the site is similar to Countable, a website and app that allows users to track legislation in Washington and lawmakers’ votes, in addition to providing a way to contact members regarding specific bills.
Pure, unfiltered Trump
Which is why FactBase’s Trump database is such an interesting — and essential — searchable database. As the site’s mission statement heralds, there are no stories or spin here, just the words used by Trump from speeches, debates, books, and tens of thousands of tweets.
Search any phrase and you’ll find tweets, interviews, and even videos, queued up to the appropriate moment for your phrase.
There’s also a toolbar that allows you to filter the search down to a specific medium, including tweets, deleted tweets (for those entertaining typos), official documents, and video.
The project is the work of Jennifer Canty and Bill Frischling, co-founders of big data firm CantyMedia. In an email to Mashable, Frischling said fake news was an inspiration for the project:
This grew out of the election and the discussion about “fake” and “real” news. It was frustrating for me to hear 17-year-old Macedonian teenagers being put in the same category as The New York Times. In thinking about it, I realized part of the challenge of the perception of truth is the ease in which one can find opinion, and the difficulty in finding a primary source for the truth.
The database will also continue to grow in the coming days to include, according to Frischling, tax and corporate records that are public, far more speeches and interviews.” The site also notes it could expand to other notable world leaders in the future.
In a similar vein, the Internet Archive has launched its own Trump database “with 700+ televised speeches, interviews, debates, and other news broadcasts related to President-elect Donald Trump.”
Featuring over 520 hours of Trump-related content going back to December 2009, the archive also features an open-sourced fact-check spreadsheet that will continue to grow as the archive does.
In a blog post, Nancy Watzman, managing editor of the site’s Television Archive, says the project isn’t just for the media, but could be used for comedy, art and documentaries, too.
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.
Watzman also adds the Trump Archive, much like the FactBase project, could serve as a blueprint for future archives based around other politicians, including members of Congress, and Supreme Court nominees.
In the meantime, 520 hours of Trump is a lot of Trump — like, a lot of Trump — but, like the FactBase project, it also features a helpful transcript tool to transport you to the right moment of a particular speech or interview.