Stanford Daily cub reporter Ada Statler-Throckmorton, 20, has spoken with big names and tackled weighty topics in the past.
The student from Prairie City, Kansas, has done a Q&A with Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey and covered the controversial fuel-free movement at the prestigious university in Palo Alto.
But she’s never broken a national news story like the one she did on Wednesday night at Stanford University’s CEMEX Auditorium. That’s where she was the first to report to the world that former House Speaker John Boehner called fellow Republican and presidential hopeful Ted Cruz "Lucifer in the flesh."
As far as she knows, she was the only reporter covering the speech, other than internal Stanford media. And when Boehner said those words, she knew it was big. But she didn’t know just how big — so big that her mother heard about it while listening to NPR early Thursday morning.
Google News returned about 300 articles for a search of Boehner and "Lucifer in the flesh" Thursday afternoon, including all the major American political news sources, all of which cite Statler-Throckmorton's story. The Stanford Daily's original article has more than 1,000 comments and 8,000 shares on Facebook, amid what its managing editor told CNNMoney is record web traffic.
“I didn’t realize it would go this viral and this fast,” Statler-Throckmorton said, noting she isn't even a journalism student, but is majoring in Earth Systems and wants to go into environmental communications.
Boehner didn’t stop at comparing Cruz to the Devil, though, and Statler-Throckmorton wrote down what he said in a candid speech that was not broadcast or videotaped: “I have Democrat friends and Republican. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.” The Stanford Daily was able to capture some audio of the now-hyped up talk.
Later in the day — and all thanks to the scrappy Stanford sophomore — Cruz held court with reporters, taking aim at Boehner, saying the former speaker allowed his "inner Trump to come out." As for the "Lucifer" comment, Cruz said: "If John Boehner is calling me 'Lucifer,' he’s not directing that at me. He’s directing that at you."
Statler-Throckmorton has been sought after from major news outlets ranging from Fox to CNN to NBC News, which is all the more curious to her because the headline of her campus newspaper - “John Boehner talks election, time in office” - certainly does not sell the story the same way those outlets did.
The Stanford Daily hadn’t promoted the story by the time the first news organization latched onto it, and Statler-Throckmorton doesn’t even have a Twitter account. She still doesn’t know who first picked up her story.
Victor Young Xu, the managing editor of news at the campus paper, told CNNMoney that on a typical day the entire site draws 11,000 to 13,000 page views.
Xu told CNNMoney the Boehner story had already reached 169,220 page views as of 11:40 a.m. PT, which represented 94.5 percent of all visits to the site. To compare, the second most-viewed story published over the last year — a satirical piece on Stanford's admissions rate — drew a little over 40,000 views.
Relishing in her 15 minutes of fame, Statler-Throckmorton said she’s been trying to juggle all the media attention cast on her while paying attention to classes.
As for her family’s own political leanings, Statler-Throckmorton said “we’re certainly not Republicans.” But she added she certainly kept an open mind to what the former speaker of the House had to say.
“He was very interesting to listen to,” she said.