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Osama bin Laden's death galvanizes Sunday night


Osama bin Laden's death galvanizes Sunday night

For the first, and possibly last, time in history, Sunday night owned television. The medium that captured, in horrifying and world-changing detail, the fall of the World Trade Center during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks also brought the news, almost 10 years later, that the mastermind of those attacks, Osama bin Laden, was dead, killed by U.S. troops in Pakistan.

Photos: Crowds celebrate Osama bin Laden's death

As networks learned that President Obama would be making an official statement to that effect, originally scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Pacific time, regular programming was suspended as anchors and reporters spoke, at times with great emotion, of the surprising and momentous news -- in a particularly poignant note, CBS' Lara Logan returned to work for the first time since being sexually assaulted by a mob during the protests in Egypt.

The president began speaking by 8:35, announcing with no preamble that “I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children.”

He then went on to conjure the images of 9/11, reminding Americans of the unity they felt even in their sorrow and the resolve that has stayed firm even as that unity “frayed.” It was a deceptively simple speech, offering a brief chronology of the events while quietly but firmly sending out a carefully constructed symphony of messages: that although the government of Pakistan aided our efforts, this was an American mission and one that had been planned for months; that the capture or death of Bin Laden had been a top priority of Obama’s presidency; that it did not signal the end of the war on terror or an excuse for reprisals of any sort at home. In making this point, Obama reached not just across the aisle but also back in time to include former President George W. Bush in the achievement.

“I must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam,” Obama said. “I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam.”

For the next hour, networks remained locked on news, as hastily gathered analysts parsed the president’s words but mostly reiterated the historical importance of the day -- “I think you have to reach back to the fall of the Berlin Wall for something of this magnitude,” said David Gergen -- with a collective air of almost dumbfounded excitement, which only grew as celebrating crowds gathered in front of the White House and at Ground Zero.

Yes, many anchors reminded us, Bin Laden’s death may spark increased activity among al Qaeda.  And no, we don’t have all the details of the attack and its additional casualties. But after weeks of British wedding thumbsuckers, after the devastating death toll in the tornado-plagued South and the utter absurdity of the birth certificate controversy, after the chronically dispiriting grind of three wars and a still-faltering economy, here was a story, a big and shining story, rising unexpectedly on a Sunday night, giving the president of the United States ground to say things like “We will be relentless in defense of our citizens” and “America can do whatever we set our minds to…not just because of wealth and power but because of who we are.”

Monday morning hasn’t looked so good in long time.

-- Mary McNamara


President Obama: Osama bin Laden is dead 

Crowd celebrates bin Laden's death outside White House 

Obituary: Bin Laden took a path of fanaticism and terror


Photo: U.S. Marines of Regiment Combat Team 1 (RCT 1) watch TV as President Barack Obama announces the death of Osama bin Laden at Camp Dwyer in Helman Province on May 2. Credit: Bay Ismoyo / AFP/Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (10)

For the first, and possibly last, time in history, Sunday night owned television

Or at least until the next Super Bowl or Academy Awards.

Good news. Obama killed Osama. Obama has his own birth certificate and Osama's death certificate (also Osama's body!!)

"British wedding thumbsuckers?" What a thoroughly nasty and unnecessary comment, condescending to ordinary human beings, most of whom are as intelligent and mature and sensible as you are, many of them more so.

"Monday morning hasn’t looked so good in long time." Should the article "a" appear before the word "long" here?

I'll give Obama props for continuing to look for Bin Laden, having the balls to pull the trigger, and finally one of his best press conferences to date. He looked very presidential.

Now stop crushing the economy with entitlements and debt. Get the US economy back on track.

Ugh, I just wanted to watch Desperate Housewives. News all over are going to be talking about Bin Laden all week anyway.

Actually, following the President's speech, CBS and NBC producers decided that LA audiences would rather watch "reality" TV - including that racist idiot Trump in "Celebrity Apprentice" - rather than engage in intelligent commentary. Only ABC cut to their national news team of George Stephanopolous and company. Rock on, ABC!

Bad day for the wingnuts as well. Mission Accomplished, ten years to the day Bushie boy paraded around that aircraft carrier.

Birth certificate turned out to be just loony ranting by the racist faction of the GOP and Obama killed himself a Muslim terrorist. Wonder what the nuts will come up with to smear him now...

Shouldn't it be "television owned Sunday night" or "Sunday night news owned television"? "Sunday night owned television" doesn't make any sense.

Certainly, citizens of the world are very pleased over the death of Bin Laden. It is the law of human nature that when one has fallen, another one will be borne. It is; therefore, wise to keep our eyes and ears open and be so prepared to protect and to deter any revenge that might come from the terrorism circle. The war against terrorism has not ended yet. Once we started fighting, it will be with us for many years to come. Heaven knows at which place they will hit us. May God bless all citizens of the world.


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