Today is President's Day in the US, so let's celebrate by remembering the moment in 1988 when Nancy and Ronald Reagan revealed their passion for drugs and alcohol.
Film director Cliff Roth made this masterpiece of analog deepfakery three decades before A.I. tools would be ready to entertain and disinform the world. Here's the story behind it, from a 2013 Gizmodo interview:
In 1986, Cliff Roth was teaching audio engineering at the Millennium Film Workshop in New York City, and decided to give his students a slightly unusual assignment. They were to re-edit a recent anti-drug speech given by the Reagans at the White House, in order to make it sound as if the President and the First Lady were giving a speech with the opposite message. At that time, he told me, it was common for the New York Times to reprint the text of presidential speeches in full. So Roth and his students pored over the text, looking for jokes they could make. The students learned about audio editing and culture jamming, or media subversion, at the same time.
And then Roth got lucky. One of his students worked at ABC News, and was able to get a pristine film reel of the speech from his office. Now Roth began to work in earnest, spending nearly two years matching the film up to the audio reel.
"I left two jump cuts in "The Reagans" to signal the viewer that of course this isn't for real — we're all in on the joke, here's the man behind the curtain," Roth explained.