Beginning at 7 a.m. PT tomorrow, former FBI director James Comey will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his firing by President Trump and the events leading up to his dismissal. Much of the nation will be focused on the testimony, perhaps the most notable Congressional hearing since the Watergate era.
Forty-four years ago, broadcast networks carried live coverage of the Watergate hearings for two weeks, an unprecedented event for the television industry and one that kept Watergate front and center in water-cooler conversations. Today, water coolers have been displaced by social network feeds, and while the networks will again carry live coverage of Comey’s hearing, the internet will also offer a second-screen experience that allows for the national conversation to occur in real time.
The hearing and the subsequent implosion on social media will be worth watching. After all, history like this doesn’t happen every day. (Okay, these days maybe it does.)
How to watch the hearing
Honestly, it’s going to be hard to avoid the hearing. Every broadcast network and major cable news channel will be televising and livestreaming the hearing. Digital news publications like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and many others will carry live feeds and/or live-blog the event on their sites.
Facebook says all of the above outlets will be streaming the hearing live on Facebook, as will news sites like BuzzFeed, Politico, Vox, and a lot of local TV affiliates owned by Fox, Sinclair, and others.
Where to find background reading
The Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday released Comey’s statement, in which the former FBI director recounted his conversations with Trump and said the president had repeatedly pressured him to publicly announce that Trump was not personally under federal investigation.
The Washington Post annotated Comey’s statement.
Several news publications have prepared explainers offering context and a timeline of events leading to this moment:
The New York Times: Your Guide to All the Comey News Heading Into His Testimony
The New Yorker: James Comey’s Intellectual History
BuzzFeed is posting live updates of news breaking around Comey’s prepared comments
How to follow the reaction
President Trump has indicated he may respond in real time to the testimony on… (where else?) Twitter. For a more official-looking response, a non-official Twitter account has been set up to reformat his tweets in the form of official White House statements.
CSPAN also has a list of national political reporters, in case you don’t already follow your own favorites and you want to find their names quickly.
Finally, the @projectexile7 Twitter account is thought to belong to James Comey. It is a private account and has only one tweet, yet it has amassed 7,600 followers who may be hoping Comey will use it to respond to President Trump.
How to make (or rebut) comparisons with the Watergate hearings
On YouTube, of course. PBS NewsHour has a short-ish, 16-minute recap of the Senate Watergate hearings that began on May 17, 1973 and ultimately led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation the following year. Longer clips can be found on YouTube playlists lovingly curated by users — here’s a good one if you care to go deeper into history.
Or if you prefer to filter your history through popular culture, All The President’s Men can be streamed on Cinemax’ MaxGo service or rented for $3 on Amazon Video, Google Play, and iTunes. (Gentle spoiler: The movie ends well before the hearings begin.)