Best of the Week — First Winner
Planning, execution and teamwork deliver outstanding coverage of Mueller report
For weeks, journalists in Washington had been chasing tips that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 race for the White House was winding down. Knowing that appetite for the story was huge, our Washington team created a comprehensive coverage plan for the day the report would be delivered to Attorney General William Barr.
Eric Tucker, Justice Department reporter, and Chad Day, Trump investigations reporter, kicked off the coverage with “Mueller in Plain Sight,” a sweeping narrative of everything that had already been revealed by Mueller in his public indictments.
As speculation intensified, Tucker and law enforcement reporter Mike Balsamo alternated shifts at the Justice Department, while AP photographers and videojournalists staked out Mueller and Barr. Photographer Andrew Harnik scored with images of Mueller arriving at the Justice Department, the first image of Mueller by a news photographer in more than a year.
Word finally came on Friday, March 22 that Mueller’s work had ended. Within minutes of moving an alert, the AP sent a series of richly reported stories by the team that led AP’s coverage for months: Tucker, Day, Balsamo and Congress reporter Mary Clare Jalonick.
And on Sunday morning AP scored another visual scoop when freelance photographer Cliff Owen learned that Mueller was at church. Owen’s photos of Mueller exiting St. John’s church ricocheted around the internet.
Later Sunday, when a Justice Department official handed reporters copies of Barr’s summary, Tucker calmly read the highlights over an open phone line to the bureau while Balsamo sent full quotes. AP’s first alert, that Mueller had not exonerated Trump on obstruction of justice, moved a full 10 minutes before the Washington Post and five minutes before the New York Times.
The video team also provided unmatched live coverage from a wide range of locations in Washington, at Mar-a-Lago in Florida and in New York throughout the weekend.
For exceptional planning, teamwork and execution, Eric Tucker, Chad Day, Mike Balsamo, Mary Clare Jalonick, Andrew Harnik and Cliff Owen win AP’s Best of the Week award.