At 3 p.m. EST, they got their answer by way of the Janesville Gazette.
The 20,000-circulation newspaper had a big advantage over the better-resourced Washington press corps given that Ryan is from Janesville, Wisconsin.
“We’re his hometown paper, so that’s why he came to us,” editor Sid Schwartz told HuffPost.
Though the speaker’s office told Schwartz they were going to send him a column on Thursday, he didn't know it was a Trump endorsement. Ryan was already scheduled to meet with The Gazette’s editorial board Friday, and Schwartz said he thought the column could have been related to an issue the congressman hoped to address at the meeting.
The Gazette received Ryan's column Thursday morning under embargo to publish that afternoon.
The Ryan endorsement news coincided with Hillary Clinton giving a major foreign policy address, and immediately consumed the conversation among political journalists on Twitter. The decision to drop the endorsement with Clinton on stage was interpreted differently, from a way to one-up the Democratic front-runner to an attempt to bury the news.
Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck told HuffPost in an email that the embargo wasn’t timed to anything. “Didn't even know about the Clinton speech,” he said.
The Ryan scoop led to an immediate spike in traffic for the Gazette, and Schwartz said they've been a "little concerned" after some visitors received error messages when trying to access the site. But as of Thursday afternoon, the site hadn't crashed.
"We’re getting hit pretty hard," Schwartz said. "So far, so good."