There are moments from the past that must be dusted off and reexamined, from time to time. In light of Trump’s recent call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, now would be a good time to take a fresh look at the presser where Trump made a similar call via public airwaves, asking for Russia to help his campaign.
Twenty-eight words and 12.94 seconds were all it took to change the course of history. Reading those words again makes it all too clear. But to thoroughly review this event, we’ll need to check the footage.
There are a few things to watch for in the video. Watch his hands, his body language, and his eyes. The side-by-side has been replayed several times to make it easier to carefully appraise one element at a time and contrast them to other footage.
In order to fully grasp the difference between Trump’s message and Trump’s off-the-cuff remarks, I pulled the C-SPAN footage and transcribed the remarks that occurred before, during, and after his message. I performed a word count for each section and then acquired the precise length of speaking time. With those two figures, I was able to calculate how many words he spoke per second (wps).
- In his remarks before the message, he spoke at an average rate of 3.193 wps. (see fig. 1)
- When he said, “Russia, if you’re listening,” his speaking slowed down to 2.16 wps. (fig. 2)
- When he got into answering the next question, he sped up to 3.767 wps. (fig. 3)
Bear in mind, C-SPAN’s footage only gives whole seconds. So, depending upon precisely what fraction of a second the speaking began and ended, there could be a variance in total time, as noted below in fig. 1. I’ve also included a variance in figures 2 and 3, although it wasn’t necessary as I was able to get the precise time via an audio program that provides data to the 1/100th of a second.
This data needed to be on the record, because it is part of a bigger story and I have little doubt that when historians look back, this event will go down as having changed history.