Tonight is your big night, public policy dorks! President Obama will deliver the annual State of the Union Address as required by Article II, Section 3 of the US Constitution, tonight, Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT. The president will address a joint session of the United States Congress -- and he'll address you too, even if you don't have cable and you steal your TV from the Internet.
Do not bother with pirated web streams of CNN or Fox News -- pirated streams are loaded with malware and spyware and the broadcast is available completely for free through reputable sources -- like CNN.com or FoxNews.com. If you're wondering how to watch the State of the Union online, here are several free online livestreams that are not only enhanced with cool online features, but also free of the digital garbage that comes with unauthorized streaming.
- C-SPAN - If you just want a straight-up, no-frills free livestream of the State of the Union address, realize that the admirable nerds over at C-SPAN webcast every single government hearing and policy analysis show they broadcast, free of charge. The "fun" starts at 7 p.m. ET with C-SPAN's State of the Union Preview.
- WhiteHouse.gov - The White House will be streaming their own official livestream of the State of the Union address, both on their web site and their mobile app. The webcast will be enhanced with accompanying charts, graphs, and data -- but it will probably not be enhanced with the Republican response afterward. Mobile users should be aware that the some of President Obama's mobile apps have provoked a few privacy concerns.
- CNN.com - CNN usually won't let you watch much of anything for free without a cable subscription, but they frequently lift that paywall and let online viewers watch CNN for free during big, newsworthy events. Tonight's CNN free livestream begins at 9 p.m. ET and is followed the GOP response at 10:15 p.m. ET, and then the Tea Party Express response at 10:40 p.m. ET.
- Fox News Live - Fox News is also making a special exception and streaming their broadcast for free, but it will not be the exact same broadcast as seen on the Fox News channel. You won't get the A-list of Fox News conservative commentators, but you will get commentary from the up-and-coming Fox analysts who work for their web-only channel.
- YouTube - YouTube aggregates all live coverage from ABC News, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times into one handy Politics channel. You even get a Univision channel for a Spanish language broadcast of the State of the Union. It's good stuff, but be aware that their "upcoming programming" schedules are often wildly inaccurate.
In the "interesting people in the audience" department, keep an eye out for the applauding moments or dead-angry stares of Apple CEO Tim Cook [Unlink], rocker Ted Nugent [Unlink] and elevator music legend Tony Bennett.