Matt Bai

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Matt Bai
Matt Bai.jpg
Matt Bai in May 2014
Born (1968-09-09) September 9, 1968 (age 51)
ResidenceBethesda, Maryland, U.S.
  • columnist
  • screenwriter
Board member ofJonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts
  • Ichiro
  • Allegra
AwardsPulitzer Traveling Fellowship

Matt Bai (/ˈb/) is an American journalist, author and screenwriter. Since 2014, he has been the national political columnist for Yahoo! News.[4] On July 25, 2019, via Twitter, Bai announced he was leaving Yahoo! News to "focus on screenwriting.”[5] For more than a decade prior to that, he was the chief political correspondent for the New York Times Magazine, where he covered three presidential campaigns, as well as a columnist for the Times. His 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.” His work was honored in two editions of The Best American Political Writing. Bai is a graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University in Medford, MA and Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, where the faculty awarded him the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship. In 2014, Bai had two brief appearances as himself in the second season of TV show House of Cards.[6]

Journalism career[edit]

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 New York Times Magazine, Bai was city desk reporter for the Boston Globe and a national correspondent for Newsweek magazine. 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. He has also been a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford and the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago.

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. He also wrote a personal essay [7] 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."


Bai's first book, The Argument, published in August 2007, 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.

His second book, All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2014. It revisits the 1987 media scandalization of then-candidate Gary Hart. Part history, part memoir and part cultural critique, the book was seen as a sharp critique of his own industry. Bai discussed this aspect of the book on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart[8] and on NPR’s Fresh Air,[9] among other venues. Reviewing All the Truth Is Out in the New York Times, Jack Shafer called it “a mini classic of political journalism.”[10] The New Yorker’s media critic, Ken Auletta, wrote, “Bai’s superb book provokes many questions, and I gulped it down in a single sitting.”[11]

Movies and television[edit]

Bai co-wrote the screenplay for The Front Runner, the cinematic version of All the Truth Is Out, along with the screenwriter Jay Carson and the film's director Jason Reitman.[12] Starring Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga and J. K. Simmons, The Front Runner completed filming in Georgia in November 2017 and was released in November 2018.[13] Another screenplay written by Bai and Carson, which tells the story of a massive class action suit against Chevron in Ecuador, was honored on the Hollywood Black List in 2016.[14] Bai has also written for television, and in 2014 he played himself in two episodes of the hit Netflix series House of Cards, as part of a season-long storyline involving a magazine story he was writing in the show.[15]


  1. ^ "Matt Bai". Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. 13 November 2009. Gale Document Number: GALE|H1000189251. Retrieved 7 September 2014 – via Fairfax County Public Library. Biography in Context.(subscription required)
  2. ^ "Tisch College Welcomes Four New Board Members – Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service". 5 May 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  3. ^ Lindsay, Greg (16 January 2008). "SO WHAT DO YOU DO, MATT BAI, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE POLITICAL REPORTER?". Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  4. ^ "New York Times Magazine's Matt Bai Joins Yahoo News". Huffington Post. 12 November 2013.
  5. ^ Matt, Bai (25 July 2019). "Matt Bai on Twitter". Twitter.
  6. ^ ""House of Cards" Chapter 24 (TV Episode 2014) – IMDb". Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  7. ^ Bai, Matt. Archived from the original on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  8. ^ John Stewart. "Matt Bai - the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Video Clip)". Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  9. ^ NPR Fresh Air. "All The Truth Is Out". Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  10. ^ Shafer, Jack (31 October 2014). "Matt Bai's 'All the Truth is Out,' About Gary Hart". New York Times. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  11. ^ Auleta, Ken. "Why the Media Doesn't Want to Remember Gary Hart". The New Yorker. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  12. ^ Deadline. Retrieved 15 November 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ Deadline. Retrieved 15 November 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ Deadline. Retrieved 15 November 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ IMDB Retrieved 15 November 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)

Further reading[edit]

  • American Prospect, September 1, 2007, "Ready to Rumble," p. 37.
  • Booklist, September 1, 2007, Vanessa Bush, review of The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics, p. 24.
  • Book World, September 23, 2007, "The New Democrats," p. 4.
  • Commentary, October, 2007, Dan DiSalvo, review of The Argument.
  • "The Day of the Netroots; Internet Grassroots Politics". Economist. 13 October 2007. p. 98. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  • Mother Jones, September 1, 2007, Josh Harkinson, review of The Argument.
  • New York Times Book Review, August 28, 2007, Michiko Kakutani, review of The Argument; September 2, 2007, Nick Gillespie, review of The Argument.
  • Publishers Weekly, December 20, 2004, "Also at Holt, Vanessa Mobley Signed New York Times Magazine Political Writer Matt Bai for a Book about the Search by the Democrats for a New Approach in the Wake of Their Election Defeat," p. 10.
  • Talk of the Nation, August 20, 2007, "Democratic Party Lacks Message, Author Says."
  • "What's the Big Idea? Democrats Are Scrambling for a New Paradigm. Maybe They Don't Need One". Washington Monthly. 1 October 2007. p. 43.
  • Weekend Edition Sunday, January 20, 2008, "Can Democrats Recapture the South?"

External links[edit]