Pentagon reporters Tara Copp, Lolita C. Baldor, and national security reporter Eric Tucker displayed brilliant source reporting and outstanding teamwork to break the news that the U.S. Army private who had fled to North Korea had been detained and faced multiple charges, including desertion and possessing sexual images of a child.
The trio’s late-night hustle to put AP ahead of major competitors with news that Army Pvt. Travis King had been charged by the U.S. military just weeks after being returned home from North Korea following his dramatic sprint across the border.
Those rumors came to fruition when Tucker got a nighttime tip from a source he’d worked with for years. Within minutes, Tucker had his hands on a military charging document listing eight counts against King, including desertion and child pornography. Tucker contacted Pentagon reporters Baldor and Copp, who even after a full day of covering the military developments related to the Israel-Hamas war went to work getting official corroboration of the charges and King’s confinement, as well as expert legal commentary that bolstered the news. The initial AP story also included a statement from King’s mother and confirmation of the charges, as well as file photos.
AP was out early with the story, which was widely used by customers.