CBS, NBC and ABC are setting aside regular daytime programming to air former FBI director James Comey’s testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Thursday.
The hearing begins at 10 a.m. ET, when Comey will discuss his interactions with President Donald Trump and face questions from the panel.
CBS announced Tuesday that it would be airing coverage hosted by Norah O’Donnell, Gayle King and Charlie Rose of “CBS This Morning.” NBC will offer coverage hosted by Savannah Guthrie of the “Today” show, while ABC’s George Stephanopoulos will host coverage on that network, per Variety.
Coverage of the highly anticipated event will elbow aside shows like “Let’s Make a Deal” in local markets on CBS and “Live with Kelly and Ryan” and “Rachel Ray” in local markets on ABC. NBC’s “Today” show typically runs through the time slot. It will preempt regular daytime soaps and talk shows.
The decision to interrupt scheduled programming for such an event is unusual. But considering how other Washington drama ― in the form of White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s press conferences ― has been a ratings boon for cable news networks, it’s likely to be a smart move.
The hearing is already generating plenty of buzz. A BBC reporter said it would likely be “the biggest piece of political theater the nation’s capital has seen in a generation,” and bars around the D.C. area are planning to open early with themed drinks. (One particularly aggressive establishment will reportedly offer free drinks every time Trump tweets during the testimony. Oh, and Trump may be live-tweeting.)
President Trump fired Comey last month in a surprise memo. On Thursday, the former FBI director will testify that the president asked for “loyalty” and suggested the FBI stop investigating former national security advisor Mike Flynn, whom Trump characterized as “a good guy.”
The full text of Comey’s testimony, including his assertion that Trump made him feel “uneasy,” has been made public at the former director’s request.