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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Politicians are racing to produce films as an outlet to extend their influence after their Washington careers expire.

Why it matters: It used to be that high-powered politicos would look to establish themselves on cable TV or in the nonprofit world after leaving office. But as young consumers spend more time watching video online via apps like Netflix, politicians are seizing on the power of streaming video to influence the next generation.

Driving the news: Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton are reportedly in talks to create a production company, Bloomberg reports.

  • "The two have spoken to studios about financing a pipeline of programs," people familiar with the matter tell Bloomberg.
  • "The family hopes to use film and television to influence culture and society now that Hillary Clinton is out of politics. They plan to focus on stories by and about women."

The Clintons wouldn't be the first Washington power-duo to take Hollywood by storm.

  • Former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama announced a multi-year deal with Netflix last year to produce a slate of documentaries via its new production company. After unveiling the initial slate of programming last month, the former president said he hoped the projects "would promote greater empathy and understanding within the world."
  • Former Vice President Al Gore famously created "An Inconvenient Truth," a documentary meant to educate people about global warming, a few years after leaving office in 2006. He unveiled a sequel to the film in 2017.
  • Former White House Strategist Steve Bannon released a film documenting his far-right, populist agenda around the world. Bannon, a former film producer, has long-recognized the power of cinematic diplomacy — a trait not so different from his former boss President Donald Trump.

On the campaign trail, young politicians are looking to elevate their stardom by documenting their campaigns via streaming documentaries.

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is in talks about a new project that would chronicle her Green New Deal policy movement, Axios reported earlier this month.
  • She and three other women running for Congress in 2018 were the subjects of the Netflix documentary "Knock Down the House" out earlier this year.
  • Beto O'Rourke's HBO documentary "Running with Beto" debuted earlier this week, documenting the his rise to national stardom.

Be smart: Billionaires are adopting a similar "soft power" strategy. Silicon Valley tycoons like Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Steve Jobs' widow Laurene Powell Jobs, and Jeff Bezos have, over the past few years, bought or invested in major national publications like Time magazine, The Atlantic and The Washington Post, respectively.

The big picture: The power of film has always been used as a tool for diplomacy, especially overseas. But the internet era has made it easier than ever to influence opinion in the U.S., especially given the number of streaming apps available to distribute films.

Go deeper

DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to alter election results

Former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 20. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's inspector general will investigate whether any current or former DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome" of the 2020 election, the agency announced Monday.

Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged that Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Google's chief health officer Karen DeSalvo on vaccinating America

Google on Monday became the latest Big Tech company to get involved with COVID-19 vaccinations. Not just by doing things like incorporating vaccination sites into its maps, but by helping to turn some of its offices and parking lots into vaccination sites.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into what Google is doing, and why now, with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google's chief health officer who previously worked at HHS and as health commissioner for New Orleans.

Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.