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Matt Bai

Columnist for The Washington Post and author of All the Truth is Out

  • About Matt Bai

    Matt Bai is a contributing columnist for The Washington Post. He previously served as the national political columnist for Yahoo News, and covered three presidential campaigns for the New York Times Magazine as chief political correspondent. He began his career as a city-desk reporter for The Boston Globe and a national correspondent for Newsweek. Bai has been a fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government and a resident scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington. He is a graduate of Tufts and Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism

    In November 2018, the film adaptation of Bai’s book All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid will be released in theaters. The film, The Front Runner, is directed by Jason Reitman and stars Hugh Jackman. Bai co-wrote the screenplay with Reitman and Jay Carson and served as an executive producer.

    Bai lectures about the role of media in a political landscape and the influence of generational changes in American politics and society. He speaks frequently at universities, corporations, and journalism programs. He is also the author of  The Argument: Inside the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics, which was honored as a New York Times Notable Book for 2007. He appeared in two episodes of the hit Netflix series House of Cards during in the show’s second season, playing himself.

  • Speaking Topics

    The Rise of Tabloid Politics

    With a mix of history, personal experience and reflection, the author of 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. Bai also speaks about the process of adapting his book to the big screen for the feature film The Front Runner.

    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.

  • Video

  • Praise for Matt Bai


    Speaking on ‘The Rise of Tabloid Politics’ and on the heels of Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election, Matt Bai provided a well-balanced presentation. Keeping his personal views out of the forefront, audience members appreciated Bai’s extensive political knowledge, professionalism and personable nature. We will be watching for more of Bai’s keen insights moving forward.

    Friends of Boca Grande Community Center, Boca Grande, FL.

    Each of [Bai’s] talks drew a full and engaged audience.… His knowledge, professionalism and candor were greatly appreciated and his media style and knowledge was first class. He is a professional and I would love to have him back in the future.

    PayPal Australia

    Praise for The Front Runner

    An introspective book that is set in another era but offers insights into ours. . . . Bai says what is obvious—that the Donna Rice furor irreparably hurt Hart—but he also says what is less obvious, and very wise: that it hurt us all.

    The Boston Globe

    In buoyant, vivid prose . . . All the Truth Is Out gives the reader a visceral appreciation of how our political discourse has changed in the last two and a half decades, and how those changes reflect broader cultural and social shifts.

    Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

    A volume of insight and wisdom, an uncommon page-turner about the turning points we don’t recognize until we’re too far beyond them to turn back.

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

    Praise for All The Truth is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid

    Persuasive….[a] first-rate work of political journalism.

    Publishers Weekly

    A new look at a scandal that changed American politics…[a] probing narrative.

    Kirkus Reviews

    What a tally of loss is to be found in this passionate and unsparing book about a turning point in modern America—an insider’s account, brilliantly told by one of America’s finest political journalists.

    Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower

    With extraordinary care and rare insight, Matt Bai leads us from the unraveling of Gary Hart's presidential campaign in 1987 to the present day. It's a trail that leads directly to the triumph of tabloid journalism – exposing falsehoods rather than illuminating worldviews, finding character flaws and isolated transgressions rather than looking for experience and intelligence, playing ‘gotcha’ rather than examining a candidate’s capacity to govern. As Bai notes, that trail has brought American politics to a deadening end.

    Robert B. Reich, author of Aftershock
  • Books by Matt Bai

  • Media About Matt Bai

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  • Matt Bai travels from Washington, DC

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