Most of the world learned about Osama bin Laden’s death when President Obama announced it late Sunday evening. But the New York Daily News says it was leaked the biggest story of the year as early as three-and-a-half hours before Obama spoke.
"We got a tip around 8, 9 o’clock, from an FDNY source, that [bin Laden] was dead," Daily News editor-in-chief Kevin Convey told Adweek. That would mean the paper was tipped off about the death of bin Laden within, at most, five hours of when the SEAL team that conducted the operation lifted off from Afghanistan.
Obama himself did not speak until 11:30 p.m. ET Sunday night, and while major news organizations knew what he would be saying an hour or so beforehand, most were still in the dark when the Daily News got its tip—they didn't get their first hint of what had happened until 9:45 p.m., when the White House emailed reporters to announce that the president would be speaking. In fact, at least one key member of Congress who was briefed on the successful operation before Obama spoke, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, has said he wasn't informed until 10 p.m.
Convey wouldn't say whether the newsroom’s Deep Throat was Jimmy Boyle, an ex-firefighters' union president who was mentioned in a column by Michael Daly that ran in Monday's paper. According to Daly, Boyle heard the news from "a friend in the government" after he left the FDNY Holy Name Society's annual communion breakfast. (The timeline in Daly's column appears to be off, as the SEALs who conducted the raid reportedly took off from the site at about 4:15 p.m. ET.) Said Convey: "Sources are sources."
The idea that such closely guarded information could leak out early to a newspaper is incredible, but in any event, it gave the paper running room to prepare what ended up being nine inside pages of coverage in Monday’s final edition when it went to press around 1:30 a.m. The paper spared no outrage with its headline: "Rot In Hell!"
A White House spokesman did not respond to emails sent seeking comment.