Byron York, chief political cor­re­spondent for the Wash­ington Examiner | Wiki­media Commons

Byron York is the chief political cor­re­spondent for the Wash­ington Examiner and a Fox News con­tributor. He is the author of “The Vast Left Wing Con­spiracy.” He has appeared in numerous pub­li­ca­tions, including The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Weekly Standard, and the New York Post. York spoke at Hillsdale’s Center for Con­structive Alter­na­tives on Tuesday.

What attracted you to journalism? 

I got into the news business because I like news. Whenever you see anybody, you say: “What’s up; what’s hap­pening; what do you know?” I think that’s the basis of the news business. Even if you’re a columnist, you want to find out things that are hap­pening. If you’re reporting and you can find out a story or some aspect of a story that other people don’t know and you can report it, that’s a very sat­is­fying thing and that’s why I got into it.” 

As far as the current state of both the media and pol­itics, are we really as divided as it may seem? If so, what can bring us back together? 

We are pretty divided; I think there is no doubt that we are sig­nif­i­cantly divided. On the other hand, we were divided in 1998, which is the year of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, which resulted in impeachment. It was a ter­ribly divisive time. Some­times events can bring people back together, some­times one side just wins. Imagine that the Democrats win a big majority in November and a Democrat wins the White House, it could be that one of the parties pulls ahead of the other and it won’t be so fought on the margins. I don’t know when we are not going to be so divided, but it will end sometime. 

What do you do to get away from the con­stant news cycle and your work that forces you to pay close attention to it?

Well, I just went on a driving trip out West. I went to South Dakota and Wyoming, and I went to the Black Hills, Bad­lands, Mount Rushmore, Little Bighorn which is just fab­ulous, just a rev­e­lation, a really striking place to be. I also went to Jackson, Wyoming and Yel­low­stone. It was just my wife and I, and I really didn’t think much about the news. I only had to write one piece in the two weeks I was gone. 

We know who Byron York the jour­nalist is, but who is Byron York the man? 

I play the guitar and the man­dolin. I spend an inor­dinate amount of time looking at vintage guitars and man­dolins on the internet. I play golf. These are really boring things. I actually wrote a piece about Bill Clinton’s golf game. I like to travel when I can. 

What drives you  — what gets you up in the morning? What impact do you hope to leave on society? 

I think curiosity drives me. I just want to know what’s hap­pening. The thing that I try to do is to give readers some per­spective that maybe they’re not getting in some of the other cov­erage of some­thing. When I’m cov­ering a cam­paign, I try to give them a per­spective that they’re not getting else­where. You can’t be totally unique, but if you look at the cov­erage in the major news­papers or on the net­works and it’s all one thing, you can try and offer some­thing else, based on the fact that you were there and you’re reporting on actual events. So that’s what I try to do. 

Do you have any advice to young jour­nalists and young college kids preparing to enter the world of politics? 

Young jour­nalists, I would encourage them — even if they ulti­mately want to be in opinion jour­nalism — I would encourage them to work and start off with main­stream news orga­ni­za­tions. Operated by the rules and the stan­dards of the main­stream news orga­ni­zation. Later, when they feel that they’ve had some expe­rience, they can branch into opinion if they have the oppor­tunity. I do think it is important for them to do that. In terms of pol­itics, this is a very sep­arate world; I have never worked for a political cam­paign or an office or politician or anybody, but we need those people. We need people who are war­riors and par­tisan. That’s good. I would encourage them to do what a lot of stu­dents from Hillsdale seem to have done, which is to go to Wash­ington and see what’s going on. Perhaps get a job in a member of Con­gress’ office because Con­gress is kind of big and sprawling and it can be a zoo some­times, but it is a really important place and they are doing really important things, and seeing it done is really, really valuable.