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CNN, MSNBC, Fox Air Gruesome Cell Phone Video of Dead Gadhafi

Moammar Gadhafi
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Even though networks are broadcasting Al Jazeera's graphic footage, they are not definitively reporting the reviled former Libyan leader was killed despite the prime minster's confirmation.

At around 10 a.m. Eastern time Al Jazeera showed "exclusive" video of what the network said was a dead Moammar Gadhafi. It was taken by one of the rebels on his cell phone, said Al Jazeera's James Bays.

Bays was reporting from Tripoli's Martyrs' Square, where raucous celebrations were well underway. In the video, which takes place in Gadhafi's home town of Sirte, the body is set upon by jubilant rebels, who kick and drag the bloody body, which appears naked from the waist up.

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At the same time, U.S. television networks were still not confirming that the deposed Libyan leader was dead, preferring to await confirmation from the Pentagon and State Department. But CNN and MSNBC showed the Al Jazeera video a few minutes after 10 a.m. as international correspondent Dan Rivers reported from a perch overlooking Tripoli. Libya's prime minster has confirmed Gadhafi is dead.

U.S. networks began reporting the news on their morning programs.

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Good Morning America's Jeffrey Kofman reported from ABC News headquarters in London at about 8 a.m. ABC News aired a Special Report at approximately 8:40 a.m. anchored by George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts and Christiane Amanpour, who raced in to GMA's Times Square studio.

On NBC's Today, Matt Lauer headed up news coverage.

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CBS News' Erica Hill delivered a bulletin at 7:30 a.m. saying that Gadhafi had been reportedly wounded and captured by rebel forces in Sirte. By 8:30 a.m., the Early Show delivered an update that there were reports that Gadhafi had been killed. By 10 a.m., CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley was in the anchor chair in Chicago. He anchored a brief special report, breaking into CBS daytime show Let's Make a Deal.

Fox News anchor Jon Scott warned viewers of the graphic nature of the video before the network aired it. Senator John McCain announced that there is "no doubt" Gadhafi is dead on the network.

All along, the National Transitional Council, the interim Libyan government, confirmed the death, but networks were careful to provide the caveat that NATO and U.S. government organizations were still unable to do the same.

And there were early conflicting reports of exactly how Gadhafi died. Some said that he was injured in a fire-fight with rebels and then killed when he attempted to escape in a convoy. But others said that he was pulled from a drainage pipe where he was hiding, injured from bullet wounds. And that is when a rebel took the cell phone video of the last minutes of Gadhafi's life.

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NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel noted the contradiction during his report for MSNBC from the NBC newsroom in New York.

If he is dead, said Engel, "It could be a tremendous morale boost and help the rebels move forward."