Obama Will Not Release Photos of Bin Laden's Body News outlets spared tough decision

President Obama has, after several days of hedging by members of his administration, announced that he's decided not to release photographs of Osama bin Laden’s body. Obama revealed his choice during a Wednesday interview with 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft, scheduled to air this Sunday.

The decision saves editors and producers from making a tough choice about how to handle the photographs, which were said to be graphic, as they show the al Qaeda leader after he was shot in the face during the raid on Sunday.

"That's not who we are," Obama said during the interview. "We don't trot out this stuff as trophies."

May 4, 2011, 1:49 PM EDT

Obama Milks His Moment President extends Bin Laden news through the week

News of Osama Bin Laden’s death was a big help for President Obama’s approval rating, bumping him up nine percentage points in a Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll and forcing GOP candidates to reorder their campaign strategies. So it’s no wonder that the president would want to make the moment last.

On Thursday, Obama will travel to New York City to visit Ground Zero; on Sunday, 60 Minutes will broadcast his “first and only” interview on the Bin Laden killing, conducted by Steve Kroft. By extending the events throughout the week, the White House is all but guaranteeing that the conversation surrounding Bin Laden's killing will lead the Sunday morning talk shows and last into next Monday’s papers.

May 3, 2011, 4:03 PM EDT

Cable News Online Records Safe Osama vidstreams soared, but not past Japan quake

Yesterday's big news also, predictably, made for a good news day at some of American's cable news networks. Between the time when the Bin Laden story first broke yesterday evening and 2PM today, says it saw more than 17 million online video streams, making it the third highest video day for the network to date (the Earthquake in Japan was the network's highest video day ever). Though MSNBC has not released specific page-view data, the network said that for the Royal Wedding,  saw over 18 million video streams and over 200 million pageviews plus views of wedding-related slideshow photos. The network says that its site is set to surpass those numbers today.

For its part, CNN reports that between Sunday evening and 1PM today, its website saw 88 million global page views - which marked  a 217% gain over the prior 4-week average for the same time period (10 PM-1PM, Sunday to Monday). is also reporting  13.8 million global video starts, which is a 725% gain over the previous 4-week average.

Click to Read More →

May 2, 2011, 5:29 PM EDT

CNN's Leading Men Ditch Hockey Game to Cover Bin Laden John King, Ed Henry were at Stanley Cup playoff

Turns out the guys at CNN are big hockey fans. Wolf Blitzer was at home on Sunday night watching the Washington Capitals playoff game against the Tampa Bay Lightning when he got a call from Sam Feist, CNN's political director and VP of Washington-based programming. It was just after 9:30 p.m, according to Feist.

"I called Wolf Blitzer," Feist told Adweek. "I said, 'Hi Wolf, where are you?' He said, 'I’m at home watching the hockey game, why?' I said, 'You need to get in now.' He said, 'Why?' I said, 'The President is going to speak. He’s going to speak for ten minutes. We don’t know the subject, but it’s got to be something big.'" Blitzer grabbed a coat and tie and was in twenty minutes later.

Meanwhile, CNN's John King and Ed Henry "were both at the hockey game, which is in downtown D.C., not far from the bureau," Feist said. "John King went to the Washington Bureau. Ed Henry went to the White House and had to borrow a jacket from someone."

Blitzer held the floor until 2 o'clock in the morning, when Washington handed coverage over to CNN International, but many stayed in the newsroom through the night and, according to Feist, are still there.

"It was a fascinating night," Feist said. "As someone who was here covering 9/11, it's kind of the natural--I wouldn't say conclusion--but it's the flip-side of 9/11 in many ways... 9/11 was a tragic day for America, and getting bin Laden was, at least for some people, closure."

Blitzer, King, and Henry can also take consolation in the fact that the Capitals lost.

May 2, 2011, 5:02 PM EDT

'Time,' 'Newsweek' Prepare Special Bin Laden Issues Newsweeklies rush to press

These are big times for Time. The newsweekly will release a special issue on the death of Osama bin Laden that will hit newsstands Thursday, May 5. It’ll be the third issue that Time will have released in the past week and the first time it’s published three issues in the span of a week. (The other two are the Royal Wedding edition that hit Monday and the regularly scheduled issue that went on sale Friday). 

The bin Laden cover, which shows the face of the dead terrorist leader covered by a red "X," is the fourth to use the red “X,” which Time has reserved for some of history’s worst: following Adolf Hitler in 1945, Saddam Hussein and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi also got the treatment. The 68-page special issue will be sold at the regular cover price of $4.99 and will be available on the iPad the same day.

Newsweek is also doing a special issue on the subject, which should hit newsstands Friday. 

May 2, 2011, 4:16 PM EDT

Dead Bin Laden Souvenirs. C'mon, You're Surprised? Frenzy of T-shirt selling begins

Just about any time something truly momentous happens on the world stage, a cagey but dedicated consortium of tchotchke makers proves that the souvenir business may just be the most agile arm of the retailing universe. Case in point: Hours after Navy Seals greeted Osama Bin Laden by introducing two bullets into his skull, a slew of T-shirts appeared in New York and Washington to commemorate the occasion.

The messages on the shirts were largely what you'd expect: Sophomoric, tasteless, clever. They range from the almost cute ("Ding Dong Osama's Dead") to the digitally tinged ("Dead LOL"); from the political ("It Took Obama to Get Osama") to the consummately crude ("Rest in Piss"). Street prices in D.C. started at 10 bucks; vendors in San Francisco—where the cost of living is higher, of course—wanted $24.

Maybe the long-awaited death of the world's most notorious terrorist isn't the occasion to talk about marketing, but you still have to wonder: What brands make these things? Well, none, really. Most of the shirts seem to be no-name efforts run quickly off local silk-screening machines by quick-thinking entrepreneurs. Given that the first T-shirts appeared just hours after Obama's death, that would preclude even the quickest shipments from China. For the record, at least one recognized retail entity ( is vending a $20 "Got Him" shirt that you can customize with your own name.

While there are doubtless many people who'd consider these shirts to be an inappropriate response to anyone's death—even a guy who deserved it as much as Bin Laden did—the lowest common denominator invariably sets the standard, and the shirts sold. Besides, when former President George W. Bush was in the White House, he used to say that Bin Laden hated our way of life. Seeing as how that way of life includes free enterprise, maybe a T-shirt making fun of a dead Al Qaeda founder is the best epitaph this country can produce.

May 2, 2011, 3:35 PM EDT

Evening Newscasts Will Be One Hour Bin Laden news too hot for normal half-hour shows

With Osama Bin Laden news dominating the news cycle since President Obama announced late Sunday night that Navy SEALs had killed him in a firefight, all three broadcast networks with evening newscasts announced they would extend the programs from their normal half hour to a full hour on Monday.

May 2, 2011, 3:21 PM EDT Couldn't Cope With Bin Laden Traffic Some readers couldn't access stories

Last night, those visitors to The New York Times' website who were eagerly hunting for news about Osama bin Laden’s demise may have hit a wall. It wasn’t the new digital paywall, though. Instead, experienced a glitch "entirely related to an unprecedented surge in traffic," said Eileen Murphy, the Times’ vice president for corporate communications.

Starting shortly after the news broke that bin Laden had been killed, and continuing on for a period of about 30 minutes, users who were not logged into the Times’ site were unable to access articles. For registered users who were logged into the site, everything worked fine, according to Murphy.

Click to Read More →

May 2, 2011, 2:07 PM EDT

Bin Laden News a Win for Wikipedia? Get it fast AND right trumped Twitter frenzy

Was last night really Twitter’s “CNN moment?” The questionable accuracy of unverified, crowd-sourced information from Twitter has caused some to hail Wikipedia as the night’s real news champ.

It’s true that news of Osama bin Laden’s death was first reported and disseminated over Twitter. But between the first mention of Osama bin Laden at 10:30 p.m. and President Obama’s televised address at 11:30 p.m., Twitter feeds were packed with as much inaccurate information as they were with true facts.

Click to Read More →

May 2, 2011, 1:57 PM EDT

Required Reading on the Death of Bin Laden The best from around the Web

As you follow the news on the death of Osama Bin Laden today, make sure you put these articles on your reading list:

Steve Coll, The New Yorker: Notes on the Death of Osama bin Laden "On the constructive side: The loss of a symbolic, semi-charismatic leader whose own survival burnished his legend is significant... On the other hand: Al Qaeda is more than just a centralized organization based in Pakistan."

Daniel Byman, Foreign Policy: OBL is Dead, Al Qaeda Isn't "Let's begin with some notes of caution.  As any expert will tell you, one of bin Laden's biggest successes is creating an organization that will survive him."

Mike Allen, Politico: Getting Osama bin Laden: How the Mission Went Down "In the biggest break in a global pursuit of bin Laden that stretched back to the Clinton administration, the U.S. discovered the compound by following one of the terrorist’s personal couriers, identified by terrorist detainees as one of the few al Qaeda couriers who bin Laden trusted."

Marc Ambinder, National Journal: The Secret Team That Killed bin Laden "From Ghazi Air Base in Pakistan, the modified MH-60 helicopters made their way to the garrison suburb of Abbottabad, about 30 miles from the center of Islamabad. Aboard were Navy SEALs, flown across the border from Afghanistan..."

George Packer, The New Yorker: Osama bin Laden: Better Late Than Never "It came almost a decade late, after far too many subsequent deaths, some necessary but most of them needless. Nor does it bring to an end anything other than the living embodiment and inspiration of Islamist terror. Still, the killing of Osama bin Laden is cause for deep satisfaction."

Adam Martin, The Atlantic Wire: Markets Surge: Bin Laden's Death as an Economic Indicator "When the initial jubilation of last night's news wears off, the economic conditions that have made for a difficult global economic recovery will still exist."

Katie Benner, Fortune: Bin Laden's Gone, But What About al Qaeda's Finances? "Contrary to popular opinion, the death of bin Laden does not strike a blow to the organization's financial health. '[Osama bin Laden] Does not support al Qaeda through a personal fortune or a network of businesses,' the [9/11] Commission wrote in its report."

Kate Zernike and Michael T. Kaufman, The New York Times: The Most Wanted Face of Terrorism "He styled himself a Muslim ascetic, a billionaire’s son who gave up a life of privilege for the cause. But he was media savvy and acutely image conscious; before a CNN crew that interviewed him in 1997 was allowed to leave, his media advisers insisted on editing out unflattering shots."

May 2, 2011, 1:36 PM EDT