Matt Bai is a political reporter and staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, Bai graduated from Tufts in 1990 and received a Masters from the Columbia School of Journalism in 1994. Bai began his reporting career at the Boston Globe's metro desk; he spent five years as a national correspondent for Newsweek before coming to the Times in 2002. Bai has covered all sorts of national news: everything from the Columbine shootings to John Glenn's last space voyage to Mike Bloomberg's mayoral campaign. In recent years, Bai has focused primarily on intra-Democratic Party politics. He is the author of The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics, an analysis of the progressive movement. Bai's work has also appeared in both the 2005 and 2006 editions of The Best American Political Writing. Matt covered the 2008 presidential race for the New York Times Magazine.
Matt Bai: Well I think I . . . I mean it’s kind of what I was just talking about. I . . . I do what I do because I think it’s a . . . an absolutely vital public service. I wouldn’t do it otherwise. It’s not a . . . just a career for me. I certainly didn’t go into it because I was gonna make more money. I chose . . . I choose to do political journalism because I think it’s absolutely vital to keep a public informed and thinking about these issues, and understanding these issues. And I do believe strongly in the American ideal. I mean I’m not . . . If you asked me what code of morality binds me . . . you know is it a religious code? Or is it, you know, a code . . . you know an ethical code of career or whatever else? It’s really an American code. I mean I believe very strongly that this is the best system of government ever invented; that we’re a tremendous influence for good in the world and can be; that freedom – personal freedom – and participatory democracy is the . . . the evolution of political thought in humanity. It’s where the whole world is going and should be going. It’s where, you (01:02:32) know . . . I don’t know how long they’ll be humans around on the planet. And I don’t know whether we’ll find a way to destroy ourselves. I mean we’re certainly doing pretty well in that area. But as long as there are humans on the planet, humankind will tilt toward personal freedom and we’ll move in that direction. And so I want . . . I want people to be as empowered, and as free, and have as much control over their lives as they can. And you know my philosophy as a journalist is always . . . you know it’s really to be . . . to be ruthless when I have to but to be kind when I don’t. I mean I really . . . To me I always put myself in people’s shoes when I, you know . . . when I write about them and think about the way they experience what you write about them. I think . . . I think if I had to give my son advice for whatever he does in the world as the way he behaves, I would tell him to be kind because I think there’s a great value to it.
Recorded on: 12/13/07