Actor Chris Evans has made no secret of his antipathy toward President Donald Trump, having called him a “moron,” “dunce,” and even a “meatball.” But the Captain America star is now hoping he can “reduce partisanship and promote respectful discourse” through a new site that he is launching aimed at bridging the political divide.
Evans is behind A Starting Point, a video site that will give politicians on both sides of the aisle a platform to sound off on hot-button issues including immigration and the economy. While the site isn’t expected to launch until later this year, it is already generating significant chatter among the political and media classes.
The site has garnered interest from star-struck Democrats and Republicans, who welcome the opportunity to reach new audiences and reap free publicity. Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Will Hurd (R-TX) recently tweeted about their meetings with Evans.
Sat down with @ChrisEvans and @MarkKassen to discuss their civic engagement project #AStartingPoint. I didn’t miss the chance to pitch Captain America on his next blockbuster role. Head to my insta story (@RepSwalwell) to see how that worked out for me… pic.twitter.com/kggqSeZTYs
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) January 28, 2020
Caught up with @ChrisEvans and @MarkKassen this morning on the upcoming launch of #AStartingPoint, their new civic engagement project to help folks stay informed and break down hot-button issues. I'm glad to work with Captain America on this important, bipartisan mission. 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/sRKp3Z948x
— Rep. Will Hurd (@HurdOnTheHill) January 28, 2020
But the site is also being slammed by journalists as naive and fraught with ethical problems.
Wired magazine put Evans on its most recent cover, describing the project as “giving Americans a cheap seat on the kinds of conversations that are happening on Capitol Hill.” Evans told the magazine that he hopes the site will “reduce partisanship and promote respectful discourse,” and at the very least, “get more people involved” in politics.
The magazine reported that the site will give politicians of all stripes free rein to answer questions as they pleasd, with no editing or interruptions. The site will also hire fact-checkers to make sure they aren’t “promoting misinformation.”
But therein lies the ethical dilemma, according to an article in the Columbia Journalism Review.
“Fixing partisanship with partisan chit-chat is a bit like trying to cure diabetes with Skittles,” the article concluded. Evans’ site will likely just add to the partisan noise that has overtaken Twitter and Facebook.
“You’re getting spin,” Igor Bobic, a politics reporter at HuffPost, told the CJR. “It happens on a daily basis in Congress.”
Wired also noted that the site faces an uphill battle in terms of reaching viewers.
“The problem isn’t the lack of information. It’s the lack of interest.” Jonathan Albright, director of the Digital Forensics Initiative at Columbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, told the magazine.
“All of these fact-checking initiatives, all of this work that goes into trying to disambiguate issues or trying to reduce noise—people have no time,” he said. “Some people care about politics, but those are not the people you need to reach.”
Evans reportedly said while recently promoting his latest movie Knives Out that the site is scheduled to launch in March 15.