On Tuesday night, an estimated 43.3 million Americans hunker down to watch President Donald Trump deliver a speech at the Oval Hall over his border wall. With the federal government's shutdown extending to the third week and with congressional stalemate on the subject, the speech represented a turning point in the presidency of the immigration hawk.
But spectators in the Seattle area were a little longer than they expected.
Fox's affiliate in the city, Q13, showed footage of Trump's speech on Tuesday, according to the Seattle Times. The station's broadcast showed Trump with a larger than normal head. His skin was orange-cheetos. And during his speech, the president's tongue came out of his mouth between the phrases. It is unclear whether filming ran live while Trump was giving his speech, or was repeated in later broadcasts.
The distorted clip was pointed by Seattle's conservative talk radio host Todd Herman of KTTH on Wednesday.
"A listener to my show sent me a video that seems to show a deceptively edited video of President Trump's speech at the Oval Office," Herman wrote on the site. "We did a side-by-side comparison of our listener's video, apparently taken from a Q13 smartphone recording, to the raw video of CNN's Trump speech."
Q13 quickly kicked in.
On Thursday morning, Q13 news director Erica Hill responded to the Seattle Times with a statement. "This does not meet our editorial standards and we regret that it is seen as a negative portrait of the president," he said.
Later that morning, Hill released a statement about the action that Q13 had taken in response to the video.
"We concluded our investigation into this incident and determined that the actions were the result of an individual publisher whose job was terminated," Hill said.
Hill did not reveal whether the employee who was fired actually created the false Trump video, or was responsible for allowing the footage to hit the air.
As the Times pointed out, Q13 recording falls into the category of "deepfakes" – images that are adjusted with advanced applications and other technologies to create clips of real figures in situations where they have never been or have said what they never said.
Famous, filmmaker Jordan Peele misled the internet last year with an adulterated PSA featuring former President Barack Obama on the dangers of believing in fake news. As real as the footage looked, it was actually just digitally tampered to look legitimate – hence the point Peele really hoped to make.
"We are entering an era where our enemies may seem like someone is saying something at any moment – even if they never say such things," Obama said in the video. "For example, they could make me say things like, I do not know, Killmonger was right. Or Ben Carson is in the sunken place. Or, how about: Simply, President Trump is total and complete (profanity). "
More seriously, people are using these techniques to edit the faces of women and celebrities in pornographic clips. For example, as The Washington Post reported in December, actress Scarlett Johansson had her image superimposed on dozens of graphic sex scenes last year.
"Nothing can stop someone from cutting and gluing my image or anyone else's body into a different body and making it look as strangely realistic as desired," Johansson told The Post. "The fact is that trying to protect yourself from the internet and your depravity is basically a lost cause. . . The internet is a vast hole of darkness that devours. "
Trump's deepfake that was broadcasted to Seattle-area viewers does not even come close to the sophistication of the best fake images.