100721-Mike Bender 1-CPT

Christopher Tomlinson/The Daily Sentinel

Mike Bender with his wife and fellow journalist, Ashley Parker, speaking to faculty and students form Colorado Mesa University Student Center on Thursday afternoon. Bender, who worked at The Daily Sentinel in the early 2000s and recently wrote a book, below, is now a White House reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Parker covers the White House for The Washington Post.

Current Wall Street Journal and former Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reporter Michael Bender was in town Thursday speaking with students at Colorado Mesa University and promoting his book, “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost.”

Bender, a White House reporter, and his wife, Washington Post White House reporter Ashley Parker, spoke to a group of communications and political science students Thursday about their work and career paths.

“This is really special for me to come back here,” Bender said, “my experience here really meant a lot to me.”

Bender told the assembled students the best advice he could leave them with was be professional and fair to everyone they encounter. He cited his relationship with CMU President John Marshall, who worked in politics when Bender was covering politics at The Daily Sentinel, as an example.

“Any luck I’ve had was from treating people professionally,” Bender said.

Both Bender and Parker spoke about their experiences among Washington insiders. Bender, who is from Cleveland and graduated from Ohio State University, and worked in Colorado and Florida before Washington, said he’s looked at differently than Ivy League grads from the East Coast.

“These are not benefits for me in Washington,” he said.

Parker, who is from a suburb of Washington D.C., described the difficulties of being a woman in a male-dominated environment, saying she realized she had to work twice as hard as the men to get anywhere, and that her successes are sometimes treated differently than other people’s, as a result of something other than being good at her job.

Bender, who worked at The Daily Sentinel for almost five years in the early 2000s, said he never set out to be a White House reporter, but he got into political writing because he wanted to be on the front page.

He and Parker were both covering Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign before being moved to that of Donald Trump for the 2016 election cycle. Both have spent a lot of time in the Trump orbit.

Parker described covering a presidential campaign as “being on a rolling party bus with your frenemies.”

She said journalism is fun because it’s different every day, and at a large organization you can get paid to travel.

“I’ve had these amazing experiences traveling the entire United States,” she said.