Quips and Quotes: Red Smith Lecture

Author: Sarah Cahalan '14

Editor's Note: As soon as I graduated from Notre Dame, I realized that I never took proper advantage of one of the biggest perks of being at a university: all those lectures. You may not be able to pop by DeBart 101 every week to listen to experts opine about cell biology or geopolitics, but, in this new series, we're bringing the lecture hall to you. Our editors will scour the campus for one presentation per week to attend and share with our readers, reporting back with a quote and a few highlights from the latest event in the life of the mind. 

"Asking a Washington journalist the secrets to his success now is like asking a bull rider the secrets to his success while he's still on the bull." 

David Fahrenthold issued this statement early on in his October 29 remarks on campus, essentially warning the audience that, in a news cycle as ever-changing as ours, even a Pulitzer Prize winner doesn't have all the tricks to keeping up. Fahrenthold was brought to Notre Dame as the 2018 Red Smith Lecturer, and, over the course of his talk, he proved that while he may not have all the secrets, he at least has some pretty good ones. 


Washington Post readers may recognize Fahrenthold as the reporter who broke the story of the Access Hollywood tape and who gained acclaim (and the 2017 Pulitzer for National Reporting) for his investigations into then-candidate Trump's charitable donations. In his lecture, he offered several tales of how he used Twitter to help with the latter. On one occasion, he says, he tweeted a call for help tracking down a portrait Trump had purchased at a charity auction. Within a few hours, it had been found — thanks to a Twitter user who heard that the painting might be on display at a Trump-branded sports bar in his neighborhood and decided to simply go and check. 


Unusual times call for unusual methods. For more of Fahrenthold's, check out his new book, Uncovering Trump


Sarah Cahalan is an associate editor of this magazine.