One of the best shows in politics started Wednesday morning and lasted into the early hours of Thursday, when Senator Christopher Murphy (D-CT) held a filibuster on the floor of the US Senate. Dozens of senate Democrats stood on the floor for nearly 15 hours on Thursday to push forward gun control legislation. It was a remarkable display of rhetoric, so it's too bad that watching it online was such a terrible experience.
There are a few ways to watch business in Congress, but there's a lot of opportunity to make it easier and better. The government's own systems are lacking, to say the least. Just look at the current website for the US Senate! (It's really bad.) The Senate's own stream is provided in an Adobe Flash player that didn't work at all on Wednesday when I was trying to watch the filibuster live. And bless you C-SPAN, you're a nerd's best friend for providing "gavel to gavel" coverage of Congress, but your internet stream was... also really bad.
So maybe internet giants should take a page from the cable companies. C-SPAN was created in 1979 by the cable industry to provide the public with the important service of letting them watch their representatives represent them. To its credit, C-SPAN took the internet seriously pretty quickly, introducing web streaming in 1997. But it's still a legacy of cable television, and even though C-SPAN is a private non-profit organization, you can't watch the best streams unless you're a cable TV subscriber.
This is the current Adobe Flash livestream of the Senate floor, provided by the Senate.— tc (@chillmage) June 16, 2016
It does not work. pic.twitter.com/cHOzHyljXh
So here's a free idea for YouTube and Facebook: become the new home of Congress on the internet as a free public service. It's a no-brainer. If you're YouTube, maybe you can throw in a 360-degree live VR camera, too — we know you have the technology.
Update June 16th, 2:16AM ET: This article has been updated to reflect the full run-time of Senator Christopher Murphy's (D-CT) filibuster: 14 hours and 50 minutes.