For nearly 10 years, it was the news that America longed to hear – that 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden had been killed. And cable news viewers heard it first Sunday night on the Fox News Channel, setting off an exuberant display from anchor Geraldo Rivera.
“This is the greatest night of my career. The bum is dead,” a smiling Rivera said after announcing at 10:40 p.m. ET that Fox’s senior Capitol Hill producer, Chad Pergram, had confirmed the al Qaeda leader’s death
Three minutes later, CNN’s John King confirmed though his own sources that U.S. forces had bin Laden’s body. The normally unflappable King betrayed some emotion as he reflected on what the news would mean to those whose lives were affected by the 9/11 attacks.
“We are closing a page, a chapter on that history tonight,” King said.
The first hint that major news was about to break came just after 9:30 p.m. ET, when the White House press corps was alerted to prepare for an address by President Obama in the East Room, sending Washington news operations scrambling to find out what he planned to say.
White House officials were mum on the details, beyond saying it involved a “national security” matter. Much of the initial speculation centered around a possible development in Libya. The news finally began to leak out as congressional leaders were notified.
While waiting for the president to make an official announcement, CNN carried live a spontaneous outpouring of emotion outside the gates of the White House, where a crowd gathered to chat “USA, USA …” and sing the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
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