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E53: HBO The Swamp Documentary's Dan DiMauro And Morgan Pehme

E53: HBO The Swamp Documentary’s Dan DiMauro and Morgan Pehme

I thought I knew how bad it really was in government. It turns out, the swamp is more insidious than I ever imagined. As some of you know I spent nearly half my life working in military intelligence and as a federal special agent.

You wouldn’t think that was torture enough, but I saw an ad for the HBO Documentary – The Swamp, and just couldn’t resist. Even I learned a few new things, (mostly not good) and my curiosity was peaked!

With that, I decided to reach out to both writers of The Swamp, and they graciously agreed to come on as guests and discuss how this documentary came about.   

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As taken from HBO:

Directed by Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme (Get Me Roger Stone), The Swamp provides a look behind the curtain of Washington politics by following three renegade Republican Congressmen — Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Thomas Massie (R-KY), and Ken Buck (R-CO) — over the course of a pivotal year in politics as they champion President Trump’s call to “drain the swamp.”  

With unique behind-the-scenes access to the inner workings of the House amid major breaking news events, including the Robert Mueller hearing and Presidential impeachment proceedings, the film presents a revealing look at the core democratic institution of American government and demonstrates the breadth and grip of a system that rewards fundraising above all else, plaguing Congress on both sides of the aisle.

Morgan Pehme is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and political commentator. Most recently, Morgan directed and produced with Daniel DiMauro The Swamp (2020), a behind-the-scenes exploration of the systemic corruption plaguing the U.S. Congress. The film was produced for HBO by their company, Calliope Pictures, in partnership with the Emmy-winning L.A.-based production company IPC. Earlier this year, Morgan co-directed and produced with DiMauro Slumlord Millionaire (2020), an episode of Netflix’s Dirty Money series, executive produced by Academy Award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney. Previously, Morgan co-directed, wrote and produced the critically acclaimed Netflix Original documentary Get Me Roger Stone, which made its premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival before being released in theaters in New York and Los Angeles and worldwide on Netflix.

Morgan also co-directed the narrative feature Nothing Sacred and co-wrote and produced the psychological thriller Nightmare for IFC Films. An expert in politics, Morgan is an on-camera analyst for PIX11 News. He is also the former editor-in-chief of City & State magazine and co-host of Effective Radio on AM970 in New York City. Among the publications to which Morgan has contributed articles are The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, New York Daily News, The Hill, and HuffPost. Morgan has appeared as a guest on The View, The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and NPR.

Daniel DiMauro is a Brooklyn-based documentary filmmaker and writer. In August 2020, Daniel, along with Morgan Pehme, produced and directed The Swamp, an HBO documentary about dysfunction in the United States Congress. In March 2020, Netflix released Slumlord Millionaire, a film about White House special advisor Jared Kushner, which Daniel also produced and directed with Pehme for the second season of the celebrated docuseries Dirty Money. Previously, Daniel co-directed, wrote, edited, and produced the Netflix Original documentary Get Me Roger Stone, which premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival to critical acclaim. Variety called the film “lively, fun, sickening, and essential.” Daniel is a co-founder of Calliope Pictures with his partners Morgan Pehme and Fredrik Stanton.

Daniel DiMauro is a Brooklyn-based documentary filmmaker and writer. In August 2020, Daniel, along with Morgan Pehme, produced and directed The Swamp, an HBO documentary about dysfunction in the United States Congress. In March 2020, Netflix released Slumlord Millionaire, a film about White House special advisor Jared Kushner, which Daniel also produced and directed with Pehme for the second season of the celebrated docuseries Dirty Money. Previously, Daniel co-directed, wrote, edited, and produced the Netflix Original documentary Get Me Roger Stone, which premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival to critical acclaim. Variety called the film “lively, fun, sickening, and essential.” Daniel is a co-founder of Calliope Pictures with his partners Morgan Pehme and Fredrik Stanton.

Daniel’s passion for both filmmaking and social justice has guided him throughout his career and led him to work as an editor and producer on multiple award-winning political and social issue-oriented documentaries for outlets such as HBO, PBS and BBC, including The King (2018), Denial (2016), (T)ERROR (2015), Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner The House I Live In (2012) and Reagan (2011), which won an Emmy. As a staff producer at Charlotte Street Films, Daniel helped lead an outreach and advocacy campaign tied to The House I Live In, which included working closely with activists and organizations dedicated to criminal justice reform and decarceration efforts related to the war on drugs. As a writer, Daniel has contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, and Talkhouse. He has given talks at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Columbia School of Journalism.

HBO’s The SWAMP Topics Discussed 

  • How Dan and Morgan met and became creative collaborators
  • How the idea for The Swamp came about
  • What were some of the most shocking things they learned about The Swamp in Washington DC
  • What kind of resistance did Dan and Morgan face while filming The Swamp
  • What other politicians did they approach for the film who were unwilling to participate
  • Why is the politics of hate so popular today, and why does bipartisanship seem to be a dirty word  
  • Do they believe President Trump is actually doing anything to drain The Swamp
  • Why do they believe President Trump is such a hated president by the left
  • Why does it not matter which party is in power The Swamp continues
  • How the committee positions are sold by party and funded by special interest groups
  • Do they think that the Libertarian party ever has a chance to gain ground in our two party political system
  • Why it is so hard to change the corrupt culture in politics today
  • Who are some of the movers and shakers in DC, and how they going about affecting positive change
  • Why is campaign finance reform so hard to get passed
  • Gary, Dan and Morgan dig deep into criminal justice reform and why the system is so broken
  • What is Dan and Morgan’s next project

Resources and links:

Gary Collins, MS

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