Interview With an Actual Journalist
Meet Quin Hillyer, an actual journalist, who currently writes for the Washington Examiner as a senior commentary writer and editor. He has worked at the American Spectator as executive editor, the Washington Times as senior editorial writer, and as contributing editor at National Review Online. Hillyer’s articles have appeared in many national publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, National Review, the New Republic, the (UK) Guardian, and Investor’s Business Daily.
Quin grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he remembers being inspired at age 12 as nearly a year-long Bicentennial celebration, in 1976, of the Declaration of Independence, enveloped the country. “It made a huge impression on me,” Hillyer expressed, as he saw the entire country caught-up in the commemoration of the document that was the mission statement for our Constitution. He said that in 1976, “there was none of this breast-beating of how awful we are” as a nation. It was there that Quin began a lifetime of respect and admiration for all things American, with a thirst to learn more about our founding and the Constitution.
He graduated from the Isidore Newman School in 1982 and went on to acquire an A.B. in government and theology in 1986 from Georgetown University. Hillyer speaks fondly of his experience at Georgetown as a freshman in his honors government program which was taught by renowned Constitutional scholars. He says after Georgetown, because of his keen interest in both disciplines, that he “hopped around between both the political world and journalism for a while, like you’re not supposed to do.”
To begin his career after graduation, Quin returned home to New Orleans and became a correspondent at the Times-Picayune. He cut his journalistic teeth while covering sports. Because of his love of our founding documents, Hillyer was a Reagan appointee to Public Affairs in late 1986, however, his real experience in politics was launched in 1987, while serving as research and issues director for U. S. Representative Bob Livingston’s gubernatorial campaign.
Following his calling once again, Hillyer felt he “was meant for journalism” which led him in 1989 to become managing editor of Gambit Weekly, a newsmagazine in the New Orleans area where he gained notoriety “doing investigative pieces on the rise of David Duke and pointing out (Duke’s) neo-Nazi ties.”
Quin boomeranged back into politics for 5 years, serving as press secretary for Congressman Bob Livingston. But, by 1996, he realized he missed writing again. With the battle between his two passions raging, Hillyer told me that columnist Fred Barnes “advised me to go make a name for myself away from D. C. and make my way back.” That’s when Pulitzer-Prize winner Paul Greenberg at the Arkansas Democrat Gazette hired him to join the editorial staff. Quin says he “did not particularly enjoy the circumstances of the job.” He was hired as lead editorial writer at the Mobile Register in 1998, where he earned the Carmage Walls Commentary Award and the Green Eyeshade Award, making good on the suggestion by his colleague, Fred Barnes.
Hillyer was ready to return to Washington in 2006 to navigate covering the political scene once again as executive editor with The American Spectator before assuming the post of Associate Editorial Page Editor at The Washington Examiner in 2008.
Today, Quin resides in Alabama and writes furiously and brilliantly on the matters plaguing the nation.
I asked Hillyer why journalism has become more of an activist profession rather than what it was originally intended to be, a watchdog over the government for the people protected by the First Amendment. Hillyer responded that “very few (journalists) try to be neutral or watchdogs.” He reminds us that at the turn of the 20th century, the “rise of the objective neutral media was a good thing,” however, today, that neutrality “has disappeared.”
“For the left, everything is politics,” lamented Quin. “So many writers are covering things they know nothing about.” According to Quin, media-types mostly consider ideology when hiring writers these days, unless they are conservative media employers who mainly look for skill and talent. When I asked how many writers in the country know the Constitution and what the law means, he responded, “less than 10%.” That explains a lot about the establishment media.
As an actual journalist, Hillyer digs for the facts. One of his latest investigative reporting projects for the Washington Examiner centers around the controversy at James Madison’s Montpelier and the “hostile takeover” of the property, as well as at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Hillyer further characterizes the takeover from his article, “Woke Montpelier leaders envision massive land grab in Virginia” in this way:
“. . . the wholly untrustworthy “trusts” that operate James Madison’s Montpelier and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello — the homes of the two most influential thinkers who laid the foundation of this nation’s grand experiment of liberty — are on a malevolent mission to trash the reputations of those two great founders.”
This is personal for Quin and to those of us who value the truth and the legacy of our brilliant founders.
In 2000, Quin penned a column asking Congress to establish a commission of scholars to commemorate James Madison’s 250 birthday in 2001 and use it as an occasion for civic education. He said the commission “should sponsor or encourage high school essay contests about the Constitution, that the scholars should meet together at least once, and a few other things.”
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) “saw the column and turned it into a bill.” Quin writes of the event on March 16, 2001: “The scholars were appointed; they held a symposium in an ornate room in the Library of Congress on March 16, 2001, with me as the only reporter present for the private part of the session; and they promulgated a call for civic education. There was a grand dinner that night at a banquet hall in the Library of Congress honoring Madison, with Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Sessions presiding and Justice Antonin Scalia among the numerous public officials in attendance. By happenstance, I rode the elevator with Scalia, but I couldn’t think of anything intelligent to say.”
In his Washington Examiner commentary, “The woke assault on James Madison feels personal, but everyone should care,” from July 20, 2022, Hillyer continued to recall that day, “For me, it capped a day in which I had driven the 95 miles out to Montpelier, then only in the early phases of its restoration from what the DuPont family had done to alter it radically, and I enjoyed a fascinating private tour of all they were planning. The curators said the law creating the commission and the commemoration had hugely helped draw attention to Montpelier’s mission of celebrating the life and thought of the Father of the Constitution.”
The Montpelier Foundation, formed in 1998, has been busy for two decades restoring the estate of James Madison, accurately preserving his legacy while also telling the critical story of slavery and its impact on the history of the plantation. After all, one of the first acts of the Foundation was to locate descendants of Montpelier’s slave population to honor their stories in the exhibits on the property.
Archaeologist, Matthew Reeves, was hired by the Foundation Board in 2000 to oversee the rigorous endeavor to uncover details about the lives and work of Montpelier’s enslaved. Quin reports, ”In 2001, shortly after Madison’s 250th birthday celebration, Montpelier organized a three-day Slave Commemoration Gathering , and over the next 15 years, it received numerous national awards for permanent and prominent exhibits on slavery’s role there.” I should note here that Reeves was fired from his Director of Archaeology and Landscape Restoration position this year.
Quin visited Montpelier several years after 2001 for another private tour, then again 5 years later, when the “restoration” was almost complete. He said that by that time, “the foundation was well into its efforts to excavate evidence of the lives of the slaves who lived there.” In context, that undertaking was appropriate and wise. Little did I know that almost all context would be thrown aside, with slavery essentially becoming Montpelier’s predominant focus.”
Incrementally, monied leftists and radical organizations have successfully orchestrated a coup upon the Boards and the Trusts tasked with operating both Monticello and Montpelier. Mary Alexander, an authentic and verifiable descendent of Madison’s manservant, Paul Jennings, has said that Montpelier is now “a black history and black rights organization that couldn’t care less about James Madison and his legacy.”
Acknowledging that slavery was “an unjust and horrible system,” she nonetheless said that Montpelier has a unique mission (to honor Madison). “There were hundreds of thousands of slaveowners but not hundreds of thousands who wrote the Constitution,” as Alexander so precisely asserted the obvious as documented by Quin Hillyer in “The ideals – and homes – of Madison and Jefferson are worth defending from the leftists.”
In his September 9, 2022, “James Madison’s Foundation, destroyed from within,” Hillyer determines, “. . . self-proclaimed “termites,” aided by a sympathetic media and discredited organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, have driven the foundation, put its financial health at great risk, and even flirted with a United Nations-aided land grab of the region around James Madison’s Montpelier by designating it one large UNESCO heritage site,” explains Hillyer.
Enter stage left, the National Trust for Historic Preservation at Montpelier. “In 2017, the ascendant liberal leadership of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which owns Montpelier but by charter is not supposed to “have authority over either management or board governance,” created an African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, dedicated not just to the preservation of sites related to “significant African American history” but also to a “social justice … movement that uses preservation as a force for enacting positive social change … to realize equity-driven outcomes.”
In other words politics, not history.
Even on September, 17, 2022, Constitution Day, the ideological overthrowers decided to ignore the facts again. Hillyer writes, “amid staff disruptions and swirling questions about its finances, the foundation created to honor the “Father of the Constitution” is scrambling to mark Constitution Day on Saturday with two woke, anti-Constitution panel discussions.” Read “Saturday is Anti-Constitution Day at James Madison’s house.”
The latest on how Montpelier’s National Trust is faring, or not, read Hillyer’s “National Trust must worry about finances of Madison’s Montpelier,” and “National Trust CEO steps down amid unrest at James Madison’s Montpelier.”
“The plan is to establish Montpelier as a beachhead for radical reinterpretations of history. To a somewhat lesser extent, leftists have succeeded in doing the same at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.” No, James Madison is not alone.
Meanwhile, back over at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Quin continued his reporting on the matter this year by encapsulating Jeffery Tucker’s demoralizing excursion to Monticello on the Fourth of July. From the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, to the exhibits and the tour guides, our beloved author of the Declaration of Independence is being besmirched and defamed in his own home.
Affluent Democrat donors to social justice organizations populate the Board of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, so they can have their way with how history is rewritten at Monticello. Books by Ibram X. Kendi and fans of critical race theory occupy the gift shop. You can read “How and Why the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Trashes its own Namesake” here.
As the actual journalist, Quin Hillyer notes, “. . . but suffice it to say that the Sage of Monticello did more for human liberty and expansion of human knowledge than all but a handful of individuals in human history. The Left’s obsessive attempts to destroy his [Jefferson’s] reputation are both malicious and historically and contextually ignorant.”
Ultimately, Quin wisely chose writing over politics. When asked why, he said, “I could have my own voice, rather than promoting someone else's interests/agenda. Plus, I really detested many parts of politics – and, I like to write.”
We need more actual journalists like Quin Hillyer who dig for the truth, gather facts and report them so the people can decide. Quin is that watchdog for the people on a quest to protect our heritage so future generations can know the truth.
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