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Matt Bai    

Chief Political Correspondent, The New York Times Magazine

A highly-respected journalist, political thought leader and acclaimed author, Matt Bai is renowned for his intelligent insight and lucid analysis of contemporary American politics. Bai is the chief political correspondent for the New York Times Magazine, where he covered both the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns and is now writing on the 2012 election. He also pens the "Political Times" column for the Times political blog, the Caucus.

Bai often explores issues of generational change in American politics and society. However, he doesn't simply record political history -- Bai offers astute intellect and acumen on where it's headed and an unbiased worldview that appeals to independent thinkers. His seminal cover stories in the magazine include the 2008 cover essay "Is Obama the End of Black Politics?" and a 2004 profile of John Kerry titled "Kerry's Undeclared War." More recently, he wrote a definitive cover story on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and a 10,000-word cover piece titled "Who Killed the Debt Deal?" His work has twice been honored in The Best American Political Writing. Informative, engaging, candid and witty, Bai provides audiences with unparalleled perspective and expertise on today's most complex political issues.

He began his career as a speechwriter for the U.S. Committee for UNICEF, writing for Audrey Hepburn, among others, and his international coverage includes reporting from Liberia and Iraq. Before joining the Times Magazine, Bai was city desk reporter for the Boston Globe and a national correspondent for Newsweek magazine. In 2002, he left Newsweek to become the national affairs columnist at Rolling Stone magazine, but the arrangement soon unraveled. On his website, Bai writes that this “disastrous little stint” involved “no articles and a lot of weirdness, but I'm contractually prohibited from talking about that.”

In 2001, Bai was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he led a seminar on the next generation of political journalism. Bai's book, The Argument: Inside the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics, is an account of the “new progressive movement” in America and the people who built it. The Argument was the only political book to be named a New York Times Notable Book for 2007. Other work by Bai for the New York Times Magazine has included cover stories on John McCain’s philosophy about war and Barack Obama’s strategy to win over white men, as well as a much-discussed cover essay, “Is Obama the End of Black Politics?”. During the 2008 primaries, Bai wrote an online blog, The Primary Argument, on The New York Times website.

Bai’s work was featured in both the 2005 and 2006 editions of The Best American Political Writing (Thunder’s Mouth Press). He also wrote a personal essay about his Japanese American in-laws for the anthology I Married My Mother-in-Law: And Other Tales of In-Laws We Can’t Live With—and Can’t Live Without (Riverhead Books, 2006).

In a 2007 interview with the Progressive Book Club, Bai said his political work is more influenced by novelists writing about urban decline in America than by other political writers. “I think novelists have done a better job on the whole of describing the confusing moment we’re in, in this post-industrial era,” he said. “Writers like Philip Roth, Richard Russo (especially Empire Falls and Nobody’s Fool and The Risk Pool), Richard Ford (especially The Sportswriter)—they’ve really tapped into a deep confusion."

Matt also co-wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation, "The Front Runner," directed by Jason Reitman and starring Hugh Jackman, which will hit theaters in November 2018.


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Big Think: Matt Bai
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Speech Topics

The Rise of Tabloid Politics

With a mix of history, personal experience and reflection, the author of the highly anticipated All the Truth Is Out brings us back to first modern political scandal—the fall of Gary Hart in 1987—and its reverberating effect on our politics and journalism in the decades since. It's the story of how politics became entertainment, and a provocative argument for why America and its media often get the leaders they deserve.

The Politics of Political Journalism

Teddy White and Walter Cronkite could never have imagined the pressures of covering politics and presidential campaigns in the online age. Withering attacks from both the left and right, upstart bloggers and amateur truth-squads—all have combined to erode the public's faith in once venerable political journalists. Why some critics are right to hold journalists accountable, and why others are simply pursuing an agenda at the public's expense.

Politics, The Next Generation

It's not really true to say the Internet has changed our politics. In truth, the Internet has changed everything in the society, from the way we find jobs to the way we buy cars and date—and politics is simply the last big institution to catch up. How the online revolution is bound to change Washington, and why it's time for a failed generation of leaders to get out of the way.

The Permanent Wave

Three straight presidents have now seen their parties lose control of Congress in "wave elections"—something unprecedented in American history. What's really going on? Maybe Americans really are swinging back and forth between ideologies. More likely, though, our turbulent politics reflects the larger trend in the society away from large institutions and limited choices—a trend that could spell the end of two-party politics as we've known it.


Matt Bai to Yahoo News - FishbowlDC

Matt Bai is leaving New York Times Magazine for Yahoo News, where he will serve as National Political Columnist. Bai, who is known for connecting his political ...

Matt Bai Leaves The Times for Yahoo News | The New York Observer

Matt Bai is the latest in a string of very recent (as in, within the last 24 hours) departures from the Times.

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