It's become a staple of news programs and late-night shows: using sound bites to disprove the proclamations of the president of the United States. No matter how emphatic the "I never said that!" is, when the footage rolls, the truth comes out. But this time, it's the tape that's full of…wishful thinking.
In an effort to showcase its editing capabilities, production company Histeria Music created an audio tape of what it would sound like if Donald Trump resigned as president. Working with multicultural agency Alma, they analyzed hours of Trump speeches, parsing tone and pitch and cadence and rhythm. Then Histeria put words in Trump's mouth.
Using Richard Nixon's infamous 1974 resignation speech as a script, they reengineered the audio recording, replacing Nixon's voice with Trump's. "I have never been a quitter, but as president, I must put the needs of America first," he says, even beginning by clearing his throat like Nixon did. The result is impressive, but the recording still sounds a bit incongruous. There's no bombast, no digressions or repeated words. It really does sound like Trump reading from a teleprompter.
While this project is a cool demonstration of technical skills, it's very feasibility is troubling. Certainly it can be used for good, like the time John F. Kennedy's final, unspoken speech was digitally recreated. But we've already seen the words of President Obama manipulated to say things he never did, and the ability to change digital media to say whatever we want is only going to get easier, faster and cheaper. Do the Russians know about this technology yet?