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Pentagon Correspondents Briefed on Osama Bin Laden Intelligence Trove; Networks vary in how Beard-Dyed Bin Laden tapes are Broadcast

The network news Pentagon correspondents have just been briefed on the massive intelligence trove taken during the raid on Osama Bin Laden‘s compound last Sunday. MSNBC immediately aired the videos of a beard-dyed Bin Laden as NBC’s Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski was making his way to his camera position. Miklaszewski and MSNBC anchor Alex Witt discussed the videos as they played. At one point, a video shows Bin Laden watching TV (above). Miklaszewski describes Bin Laden with the remote control, “working it like most American men watching sports on the weekend…as he’s flipping channels to find reports about himself.”

Around 1:05pmET, after MSNBC had aired most of the five as-yet unreleased Bin Laden videos at least once, CNN began playing the videos. Fox News chose not to take the videos directly to air, instead broadcasting still images from the video showing the black-bearded Bin Laden.

CNN’s Barbara Starr had an interesting behind the scenes observation, telling anchor Fredicka Whitfield, “You had perhaps 50 reporters here in the Pentagon for a background briefing from a senior intelligence official, we were not allowed to record it, we could take no pictures, we can broadcast nothing from this briefing in terms of what was said, but the Obama administration had an official in the room taking pictures of us.”

Jennifer Griffin on Fox News characterized the intelligence take as “the mother-load” describing Bin Laden in one video looking “like an old man on the floor just watching Al Jazeera.”

Fox News anchor Jamie Colby explained FNC’s policy: “We are only showing you these stills, and not the video. It is our position that we will not ever air video that would serve as propaganda.”

CBS News produced a special report around 12:58pmET with Anthony Mason anchoring in New York and Bob Orr at the Pentagon. ABC News produced a special report around 1:08pmET anchored by David Muir and Martha Raddatz at the Pentagon. Both CBS and ABC aired the videos, none of which had audio.

> More: The DOD video release is changing up cable news afternoon programming. Fox News’ “America’s News HQ” will air until 3pmET; “Journal Editorial Report” and “FOX News Watch” will air at 3 and 3:30pmET, preempting a John Stossel special. MSNBC went live until 2pmET while CNN/U.S. and CNNI have been simulcasting for much of the afternoon.

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