Washington reporters had been hearing unconfirmed talk of an Osama bin Laden operation, then sometime today the White House began calling government leaders and ex-presidents to tell them of the mission's success. The New York Times says that the first authoritative tweet that "seemed to confirm" the news was posted at 10:25 p.m. Eastern Time by Keith Urbahn, the chief of staff for former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn.” Then the flood was unleashed.
Within minutes of that tweet, anonymous sources at the Pentagon and the White House started to tell reporters the same information. ABC, CBS and NBC interrupted programming across the country at almost the same minute, 10:45 p.m., with the news. “We’re hearing absolute jubilation throughout government,” the ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz reported.
Brian Williams, an NBC News anchor, told viewers, “This story started to leak out in the public domain largely when some Congressional staffers started to make phone calls....”
By the time President Obama addressed the world, stories were already up on major news sites and the networks had been chattering live for 45 minutes. Lara Logan even made an appearance as an analyst in the studio for CBS, just hours after the "60 Minutes" story aired on her ordeal in Cairo.