Who are you?

Matt Bai, and I’m a political writer for the New York Times magazine and author of the book, “The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics”. I was born and grew up in Trumbull, Connecticut, which is a little town just outside of Bridgeport. I think anybody who spent any time in Bridgeport . . . It’s not far from here. It makes me a Yankee fan. You know but I think anyone who has spent any time in Bridgeport or in any of the industrial cities of the Northeast would understand how, you know . . . where my worldview is formed. Because you know for me, I grew up around . . . in pockets of affluence huddled around these old, great industrial cities that were just rotting; and that were unsafe; and that were uninhabitable; and where . . . and where the economies and the social order had fallen into great sort of chaotic disrepair. And . . . and I was always told there were places you could go and there were places you couldn’t. So I could take the train to New York City, and I could see Yankee Stadium from the train. But you never got out in Harlem because Lord knows what would happen to you if you got out in Harlem. And I grew up wondering why you couldn’t go to those places and what had created those conditions. And as soon as I was . . . started to get into journalism that’s where I went. I went first to the South Bronx, then to the Boston Globe to cover the projects in Boston. And I was often . . . Somebody asked me recently . . . I won’t go on and on with all questions, but this one matters to me. Somebody asked me recently . . . I did an interview with a book site, and they said, “What writers influence you?” you know. And I had to think about it for a while, and I said, “It’s not political books.” I can’t think of many political books that have been influential to me. But novelists who have understood much better than non-fiction writers, than journalists have, the condition of sort of dying industrial America and what it means to us as a country. And so, you know, people like Richard Russo who writes about this over and over again; and Philip Roth who wrote “American Pastoral”; people who’ve, you know, who’ve captured this moment at the end of the industrial age that sort of defines where we are. So I grew up right at the heart of that moment.

Recorded on: 12/13/07


From small town Connecticut to the New York Times.

Calling out Cersei Lannister: Elizabeth Warren reviews Game of Thrones

The real Game of Thrones might be who best leverages the hit HBO show to shape political narratives.

Photo credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren argues that Game of Thrones is primarily about women in her review of the wildly popular HBO show.
  • Warren also touches on other parallels between the show and our modern world, such as inequality, political favoritism of the elite, and the dire impact of different leadership styles on the lives of the people.
  • Her review serves as another example of using Game of Thrones as a political analogy and a tool for framing political narratives.
Keep reading Show less

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less
  • Climate change is no longer a financial problem, just a political one.
  • Mitigating climate change by decarbonizing our economy would add trillions of dollars in new investments.
  • Public attitudes toward climate change have shifted steadily in favor of action. Now it's up to elected leaders.