GLENN: Yesterday, something premiered on Facebook. It is a documentary called The Swamp. And it's a series. And it's going to come out every couple of weeks. Here is just a taste of what The Swamp is all about.
VOICE: I had heard about people losing their seats on committees as a result of not voting the right way.
VOICE: People think this is politics. Politics is just the superstructure.
VOICE: And I often said, if it were a company. Unbelievable. You don't need the rest of us. They make every single decision at the time.
VOICE: The system is not broken. And there are good people here. The system has been poisoned.
VOICE: As soon as you want something, they got you. As soon as you want something, you now become part of the swamp. That's the way the game is played around here.
GLENN: The Swamp, the creator and executive producer is Matt Whitworth, and he joins us now. Hi, hi, how are you doing, Matt?
VOICE: Hey, great to be here. Always nice to be out of The Swamp.
So you started working on this, and everyone said you were crazy, including the Freedom Caucus.
MATT: Freedom Caucus leadership as well told the four members that we have, that they were crazy to do this show. Because these guys ended up signing a film participation release, where they have no editorial or creative control. So they deserve a lot of credit. They took a huge risk in allowing us total access to them.
We filmed staff meetings in their office. We filmed them running over to the Capitol for votes. We filmed them with their families. You know, so you get to see that whole picture.
But it took us about six months to get through House Ethics Committee, and office of general council. All of these House agencies that we had to go through, for these guys to sign this film participation release, and to participate in their official capacity as a congressman.
GLENN: So who were the ones that participated?
MATT: So we have Dave Brat, Tom Garrett from Virginia, Rod Blum from Iowa, and Ken Buck HEP from Colorado.
GLENN: Hmm. And what did you learn?
MATT: Oh, it's been fascinating. The first day we were filming with Ken Buck. And I said, you know, tell me just about the legislative process in DC. And he smirked and he goes, the legislative process in DC is, the leadership writes the bill, they leak it to lobbyists on K Street, the lobbyists leak it to Politico, and then we read about it in Politico.
GLENN: And we're hearing this from everybody. You know, in the Senate, I'll hear from people in the House and the Senate that both say, we -- we have nothing that's -- it -- there is a dictatorship of four. It's Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, the turtle, and --
GLENN: And Paul Ryan.
MATT: Yeah, that's what you hear. This is not a Democrat-bashing show. We actually reached out to Democratic offices in the very beginning. Because I thought, you know, even though we have policy differences, there are people on the other side of the aisle who want to see some of these sort of structural reforms in DC. And none of them were willing to speak on Congress. Because wanted to (?) if you speak out of line.
But that's the big theme that you hear from all of these guys, is the top-down nature of DC. How everything comes down from the top. And then you really hear about the retaliatory actions, where if these guys don't vote the right way, what happens? Ken buck told stories (?) or getting kicked off of committees for be the not voting the right way.
There are members who have had (?) the night before they were due to fly out of for not voting the right way
STU: There's one clip where, I can't remember which congressman it is, who said, I'm a grown man. Because they come to him and they say, you're going to lose your privileges. You're not going to be looked upon kindly if you step out of line. And I forget (?) in their own right a lot of times. Especially with the sort of Tea Party movement. There were a lot of people who were already successful in business. Economists and -- doctors and things like this, who just got into the politics game at that point because they believed something was wrong with the country. Then they get beat up by The Swamp, (?) this has been -- their entire life hasn't been following, it's been leading.
MATT: No. Absolutely. I really wasn't sure how forthcoming these guys were going to be. And remember, the only (?) I was cold calling offices, looking at dozen interviews, YouTube interviews of these guys, trying to find people that I thought would really be forthcoming. (?) we went into his office. And his staff briefed him on what we wanted to do for the series. And we sat down. And Ken said, I'm so glad you're doing this. (?) I turned. And I said, I think this is going to work. I think we may have something.
MATT: But these guys, they really did, they took a huge risk. They had no idea the direction of the series.
GLENN: Yeah, I would never give you that.
MATT: Sort of our vision.
GLENN: I mean, that's -- I want to impress upon the audience how risky that is to have a filmmaker come in and say, you know, you don't have anything to say about it. And we can film whatever you want. And you don't have final say on the edit. There's no way I would give that to you. Because you could edit it -- if I don't know you, you could edit it any way you wanted and make me look any way you wanted me to look. So these guys are extraordinarily brave.
MATT: Yeah, they took a huge risk in doing this. And there were members -- other Freedom Caucus members who told these guys, you're crazy to do this. And Rod Blum, the congressman from Iowa, told me at one point -- we were sitting (?) if I say something stupid and you guys (?) that's on me. That's not on you. But he said, I'm so frustrated with this system. And he said, if this can play (?) he said, I'm willing to take that chance.
GLENN: So what do you shownous what's the biggest thing that you think people are going to take away from this and go, holy cow?
MATT: I think one of the biggest things is exactly what you talked about. The leadership of both parties are in cahoots with one another. So one of these guys told the story, about, if you want to be on the -- internally, the congressmen rank committees, so if you want to be a chairman (?) you have to kick up 1.2 million a year to the party.
GLENN: Oh, my God.
MATT: So it's not about your knowledge or experience, it's about who is the best fundraiser. (?) this apparently started on the Democratic side of the aisle. Where in the D triple C, there's a list of all of the members and what they have to kick up and who is behind kicking up these payments to the party. And apparently, Paul Ryan (?) we should have it on the Republican side.
So now it's on the Republican side as well. And Ken buck showed us the picture of this list. (?) you'll see them having staff meetings, trying it figure out, how are we going to block this piece of legislation. How can we slow it down? And if we get into things, if there's a new speaker in the House (?) you'll see all of that play out as well.
STU: Did you go through this and see -- because, I mean, there are structural problems, and that's kind of what the focus is. It's not about personality, Nelson. It's about the (?) did you come through it and at the end say, okay. Here are concrete things that we could do, to solve solve these problems. (?)
VOICE: These guys are so frustrated. Rod Blum from Iowa, introduced three, what he called drain the swamp bills last fall. And some are simple. (?) another is a lifetime lobbying ban. And the third one is term limits. And he was like, I'm going to submit these bills, but I know they're not going anywhere. You know, so that's how frustrated these guys are.
GLENN: So why is it on Facebook? Why not Netflix or Amazon?
MATT: Hey, we went that route. We filmed with these guys a single day in the fall to (?) and we went out pitched Netflix and Hulu and Amazon and probably about a dozen major television networks, and all of them were blown away by the footage. Several of the networks said, we tried to (?) ethics committee or some of these other groups. So they were impressed that we were able to. But I think we sort of hit that insurmountable, you know, political bias of, they didn't want to put four Freedom House members and give them a platform for them to sort of share their stories. We were sitting with an executive at a major network, and I was talking about this, you know, unprecedented access that we have. And I mentioned that we have four members of the House Freedom Caucus. And he rolls his eyes. And then we showed him the footage. And he said, wow, I wanted to hate these guys, but I can't. So at the time, (?) for our chances of selling this show. You know, but hindsight being 20/20, I don't think there was any way they would put these guys on television.
GLENN: Next time you do this and you have original stuff, bring it to me. Bring it to me.
MATT: I will. I will.
GLENN: Because I'll go into those offices with you.
MATT: Good. Good to know.
GLENN: Because, yeah, I'll go in with you.
MATT: So what you see in Episode I is us just sort of introducing these characters and setting them up. I think that's a really surprising aspect of the show. It's really two-fold. (?) and then it's also turned into this sort of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. You know, these character dram as. You get to see (?), you know, what were their expectations coming into Congress, versus running into this wall of basically being quarantined and put in a box by leadership.
GLENN: So you now have these guys. Have you heard and have the Freedom Caucus -- sure. -- have others seen the footage, and what are they saying about it? (?)
MATT: So we've heard sort of mixed things. There are members who have sort of liked footage they saw (?) before we released the first episode. Like I said, there were several Freedom Caucus guys who told our members who said you were crazy to do this show. But we filmed (?) surrounding him. And all the other members started peacocking. And they're like, why does Rod Blum get a television crew. And they're coming up and slapping him on the back. Like, hey, rod, what's going on? (?)
GLENN: Came out yesterday. You can find it at Facebook.com/the swamp. Really, really worth watching. And also, congratulations to Dave Brat, Tom Garrett, Rod Blum, and Ken buck, for having the courage to go on record and say these things. There are a lot of people in Washington that are good. And I think good on both sides. Hmm. I mean, it's hard to find them. But they're -- they are there, that want an end to this. But they don't have the balls to do it. And these four men did. And -- and good job, Matt. Congratulations.
MATT: Thank you very much.
GLENN: You bet.