Osama bin Laden's death: ABC correspondent Nick Schifrin discusses network's 'exclusive' video
Inside the ransacked Pakistani mansion where Osama bin Laden was killed, blood was splattered on the floor, bed linens were in disarray, and ABC News captured it all in photos and video, scoring the first big exclusive of the aftermath.
The morning after President Obama announced that Bin Laden had been killed by U.S. special forces near Pakistan's capital of Islamabad, the network broadcast footage from inside the mansion on “Good Morning America.” ABC correspondent Nick Schifrin, who has been stationed in Pakistan for years, appeared on the morning telecast and said he had just returned from a tour inside the compound and reported that the pictures and video show the Abbottabad compound where the raid took place.
"Looking at the video, it’s a good TV moment," Schifrin said in a phone interview with the Los Angeles Times. "There's something about seeing it all for yourself."
The footage is about a minute in length and shows the bloody floor of one of the rooms inside. Schifrin, in the voice-over, describes what can be seen in the other rooms: The first room on the right was "full of blood, where multiple people were killed," and a room on the left that was not shown housed computers.
In his interview with The Times, Schifrin offered more descriptions of the scene inside the mansion: "There's signs of children. There’s toys in the backyard, baby beds. A room stored with weeks' worth of food.”
The network did not disclose how it had received the video, or from whom. The video will make the ABC News rounds, with additional airings on “ABC World News,” “Nightline” and Tuesday’s edition of “Good Morning America.”
Despite requests from other news outlets, ABC opted not to make the footage available to anyone else but expected it to be picked up by other outlets under the “fair use” principle. Indeed, by midday Monday, CNN had incorporated the footage into its coverage, and blogs began posting the clip.
“It’s been a pretty widespread reaction,” Schifrin said. “We’re living in a hotel that barely has Internet. It’s very isolated out here. You don’t really know the impact. You don’t know where your material sits sometimes. It takes other people telling you how significant your stuff is… it takes doing interviews like this.”
Schifrin, though, was quick to note the collaborative effort among his team that’s spanned years in Pakistan and Afghanistan as helping to lead to this moment.
“This wasn’t just me and a team of Westerners running around here hiring random translators,” Schifrin said. “I’m working with local reporters, local producers who are some of the best journalists around. It’s years of extensive work.”
And the work doesn't stop now.
“A colleague said to me ‘This is it! This is what everybody has been working toward for 10 years’” Schifrin said. “I’m not sure I entirely agree. It’s just a sign of a bigger story to come.”
-- Yvonne Villarreal
Photo: Screen grab from "Good Morning America" of Nick Schifrin reporting from Abbottabad, Pakistan. Credit: ABC