Political junkies weren't the only ones riveted to ex-FBI Director James Comey's testimony Thursday, as the much-hyped event also drew a wide swath of viewers who normally aren't entrenched in Washington politics.
The long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee hearing pulled in eyes from bars, cubicles, airports and homes across the nation, after constant media coverage of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and whether Trump campaign associates colluded with Russia.
“I think that it is very telling that people are so interested in this—people are skipping work, using social media—people are talking,” Merideth Turner, a 25-year-old from Columbus, Ohio, told Fox News. “I think that stems from concern for our country and our future.”
One New York City bar hostess told Fox News the venue was “packed” for the hearing.
“We had a full house, people stayed until the very end,” said the hostess from SideBar, in New York City’s Union Square.“No one was drinking much, people were really listening to the testimony.”
A bar in New York City’s Midtown also showed the hearing, but drew less of a crowd.
“I don’t think people came with the intent to watch the Comey hearing, but people ended up lingering at the bar,” a hostess from Langan’s Pub said. “But one patron asked the bartender to switch to sports.”
The hostess told Fox News that patron said, “I’m fed up with this stuff.”
People at Miami International Airport crowded in the bar there due to flight delays.
“There was a big crowd here until it ended,” one man at the airport said. “Everybody was really engaged—they kept asking them to turn it up so everyone could hear it.”
But regarding Comey’s long-awaited testimony, Americans across the nation are split over whether it would have a positive or negative impact for President Trump.
“I think it was definitely good for President Trump, with the only exception being Comey’s points about Trump ‘lying’ about his character,” Chris Jones, a marketing executive from Redding, Conn., told Fox News.
Comey testified that Trump had lied about his inability to lead the FBI, and said the president “defamed” him. “The take-away was that there was no obstruction of justice," Jones said, "but the news isn’t as good for Loretta Lynch, although we likely won’t hear about her shenanigans in the mainstream media.”
Comey testified that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch told him not to call the probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server an “investigation,” but to refer to it as “a matter.”
“The thing I walked away from in Comey’s testimony is there’s nothing to it,” Bob Pena, a Republican from El Paso, Texas told Fox News. “I don’t see where there’s any smoke, much less fire.”
“Watching the hearings, I couldn’t help but think of the felonies and scandals of Hillary and the Obama administration where Comey found nothing wrong,” Steve Hall, a small business owner from Zebulon, Ga., told Fox News. “He seemed to be intimidated by Trump, and seemed to be playing the victim card.”
But others thought Comey’s testimony was somewhat of a “nothing burger.”
“I don’t think it was as incriminating and detrimental as people expected it to be, but none of this is good for Trump overall,” Alexa Lamanna, a 21-year-old from New Jersey, said.
But Lamanna added that she was left “even more confused” on the timeline of Comey’s firing. “I want a transparent release of information on what happened up to Comey’s firing.”
A recent Fox News poll surveyed a sample of 1,000 Americans, and asked them what they felt was the “real reason President Trump fired Comey.” Sixty percent said that they believed Comey was fired because his investigations were harming Trump, and 29 percent said that it was because Comey’s actions were harming the FBI.
A South Carolina woman, Rachel Bostic, told Fox News that Comey’s testimony could be end up being an issue for the president.
“He’s relatively ignorant of the way things work in Washington, so he probably didn’t realize that what he was doing was inappropriate and people are going to cut him slack for it—although it’s his job to know what actions are and aren’t appropriate for the president,” Bostic said. “I think there's still so much that we don't know, especially because so much of what Comey knows is classified, it's nearly impossible to predict how this entire situation will play out.”
And some Americans are just fed up with Russia talk in general.
“I wish they’d end the whole thing and get down to business and do away with the Russian deal,” a North Carolina man, John Sanders Sr., told Fox News.
“It’s constant garbage day in and day out—each side hates the other,” Eddie Murphy, a 25-year-old from Los Angeles, said. “You can’t tell what’s lies or truth.”
“I’m ready to put it behind me and not hear about Comey again,” a Florida man told Fox News. “I think everybody knew that Russia was interfering with the election before Trump was elected and now just another way to consume our time and keep us busy with news that really isn’t important.”
One man from Miami, Fla. told Fox News the testimony really doesn’t matter at all.
“In the end, it boils down to a ‘he said, he said’ situation, and whatever happens with this hearing is not necessarily the most important thing,” explained.
Fox News’ Erin O’Donnell, Rob Demetrious, Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Ray Bogan, and Willie Inman contributed to this report.