David Fahrenthold Speaks on His Pulitzer-Winning Reporting

Story posted October 22, 2020 in CommRadio, News by Trevor Grady

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — David Fahrenthold, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Washington Post, joined the Penn State community via Zoom call Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

The lecture was part of the annual Foster-Foreman Conference of Distinguished Writers from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.

Fahrenthold earned his Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2017 for his reporting and coverage of U.S. President Donald Trump and his alleged charitable endeavors.

“Donald Trump had made this promise on the stage at a Primary event in Iowa in early 2016,” Farenthold said. “He said, ‘I have raised $6 million to help veteran’s charities, and I myself have given $1 million to veteran’s charities.’”

Fahrenthold knew this was a bold statement to make and needed to investigate. He knew this was important because one of the biggest aspects of Trump’s 2016 campaign was how much he cared about veterans.

Fahrenthold led a long investigation that eventually led him to tweet at all of the veteran’s charities he could find and ask them if they had received any donations from President Trump.

Fahrenthold talked about how he knew President Trump spends a lot of time on Twitter searching his name.

“It turned out that he had, and he’d seen all of this, and in response, that night, he actually gave the money away,” Farenthold said.

Fahrenthold finished the Zoom call by talking about the mindset of a reporter and how a good reporter needs to be persistent.

“I think it’s not just about persistence in our work, but one of the things that’s been really important about the last few years is persistence in our values,” Farenthold said. “Objectivity, caution, unwillingness to speculate without data, openness to all viewpoints, and devotion to the truth: Those things, those standards, that’s what gives us the sort of power now, even in a time where the rest of the world has decided that nothing else matters.”


Trevor Grady is a junior majoring in management information systems and minoring in journalism. To contact him, email tmg5685@psu.edu.