April 12, 2024

Chris Evans & Mark Kassen - Facts vs. Politics | The Daily Social Distancing Show

Published June 11, 2023, 10:20 p.m. by Naomi Charles

Chris Evans and Mark Kassen talk about the merging of fact and opinion in politics and their new platform A Starting Point, which provides voters with non-biased facts from elected officials. #DailyShow #ChrisEvans #MarkKassen

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Chris, Mark, welcome to The Daily Social Distancing Show.

-Thank you. -Thank you for having us.

So let's jump straight into this idea--

A Starting Point, a web site where,

if I understand correctly, people can log on

to just get the facts about politics

and engage with their politicians.

The question I have is,

can you create a website that is non-partisan

if facts around politics are involved?

Sure. I mean, that's the challenge, isn't it?

There's three sections to the site,

and I'll let the viewers go check it out themselves.

But the first section is where we outsource to get fact-checks.

That's where it is trying to demystify basic issues,

not only about the elected officials themselves,

but trying to give the electorate a perspective

of not only the Democratic, but the Republican perspective

to know where they fall in the political landscape.

There's no denying that now,

people say if a fact goes against what they believe in,

well, then, it's been influenced,

it's been faked, and it's been affected.

So Mark, how do you play into convincing people

that the fact is in fact a fact?

You know, Chris and I--

we talked a lot about this going in.

I mean, how we would do that and what we would do.

And if you look at the different fact-check websites,

it becomes arbitrary really quickly and very debatable.

So, what we did is the best that we could do.

A: We keep the answers very short,

-so they can't say too much. -Okay.

You know, everything's under pretty much two minutes.

So that-that stops too much bloviating.

But two-- we handed it over to another organization

that just handles accountable,

dealing with policy and tracking bills.

So therefore, then, when people want to say,

"Well, we couldn't find any backup for that,

we couldn't find any backup for this,"

and then it is incumbent upon people to say,

"Well, then where do we go to find more backup?"

And you might try and get some bread crumbs,

but again, we're just a starting point.

I like that you call it that, a starting point,

because it feels like, I mean-- please forgive the pun--

but it feels like this is endgame, you know?

And now you're starting off

where it feels like we are long past.

Like, people don't seem to care about what a thing is.

-They care about how it feels right now. -Sure.

Do you think you can get people back to a place

where they go to look for facts before they make a decision

on who or what they vote for?

Sure. I mean, even what you said earlier,

that kind of dizziness of the obfuscation,

deliberate obfuscation by a lot of people in power,

to kind of muddy the waters, and it becomes this kind of...

you know, Ouroboros, and I think that does breed

a kind of disinterest and apathy.

And so I think what we're trying to fight against

is the exhaustion that the political landscape can present

with the dizzying of, you know, subjective information,

subjective facts, and just trying to connect people

back to elected officials, the political landscape itself,

in an effort to try and, you know, breed participation,

so that democracy doesn't die.

Not to be dramatic, but that's what'll happen.

Now, folks in D.C. that you see on TV

are talking about things that the folks who elected them

are concerned with.

That's what we're really committed to more in saying,

this is the fact, this is the way forward.

We're not the authority-- we're trying to help soften

the tenor of the conversation

and be a more productive dissonance.

That was good, Mark. Remember everything you said.

Thanks, man. I'm gonna steal one of your analogies later.

Let's put that on the site.

So you don't have likes, you don't have dislikes,

you don't have comments, you don't have...

You basically don't have the Internet on your website,

which is, I mean, it's very old-school.

But I would like to know, though,

why don't you have likes, why don't you have dislikes,

-why don't you have comments? -Well, because I think

it's a bit of a negative reward mechanism.

I mean, I-I may not be the only one on this call

to say that, you know, it's... it's not refreshing, you know?

Anytime you go and scroll through the comments section,

you don't walk away saying, "Man, I feel better now."

Um, so I think sometimes the tail can wag the dog.

When it comes to political comment sections,

I think you can kind of trick the algorithm,

tailor what you want to say to encourage likes

and seem louder or more relevant than you are.

And so I think we just wanted to kind of remove that.

And again, I think that's actually

one of the contributing factors

that makes people turn away from politics,

because it is... the vitriol is just at an all-time high,

-Right, right. -so I think we can try and make the landscape

committed to a more scholastic intent

than kind of, uh, the kind of toxicity

that sometimes, you know, individual opinions can have.

And then, also, you know, we do have one way that people

can give feedback, which is they can take two actions

on our site-- one is to register to vote,

and the other is, they can connect

to their elected officials directly.

They can reach out. I think we've registered

almost 7,000 people to vote so far, and over 35,000 people

have reached out to their elected official.

So at least to us,

an engagement is if you reach out to your elected official.

An engagement is if you register to vote

and actually do something.

Um, Chris, I have to ask you this question.

-Lay it on me, now. -There's no... there's no denying

that many people consider you a woke bae, right?

Online, people know... know that you share your views.

You know? You have left-leaning views.

You're a progressive. You've never hidden this.

-Yeah. -To be the face

or one of the faces of this website

means that some people are going to automatically assume

that some of the things you're doing

are trying to push people to the left.

How do you assure people that it's not happening,

and more importantly, how do you stay away

from doing what you believe is right

because of your political beliefs?

Yeah. Well, I'll still express my opinions

when I feel called to do that.

I don't think one has to step on the other.

I led with the fact that, you know, look,

everyone knows I'm Democratic,

everyone knows I have my issues with certain people,

and I won't hide those, but... but when you examine

the mechanism of the website, it's virtually impossible,

I mean, at least, I would argue, virtually impossible for me

to somehow inject my opinion

into the mechanism of each section.

Each section is pretty airtight in terms of just trying

to give the elected officials a platform

and encourage connectivity between those two parties--

the-the elected officials and constituents, rather.

So I understand people's concern,

but like I said, I've been trying to shout

that I'm aware of it, too.

You have to talk to a lot of politicians

who you don't necessarily agree with.

Both of you. Um, Chris, you caught a little bit of flack

when people saw you take a picture

with Ted Cruz's daughter, and it was like,

"Oh, you're with Ted Cruz,"

"How can you be taking pictures with Ted Cruz?"

And you're like, "Well, I'm here for the daughter,

and Ted Cruz says, 'It's for my daughter,'"

but then there's Ted Cruz in this.

How do you balance that on your side?

Because, I mean, it is... it is a little bit weird.

Some people are like: I don't agree with any of your politics.

But as Captain America, I would like to take a picture with you.

You may even go like, "I hate this policy

"that you enacted on human beings,

"but as Captain America, I understand that you'd like

to take a picture with me."

How do you balance that, and how do you respond

to people who go, "Chris, how could you do that?"

Yeah. Well, in that circumstance, it was a child.

I'll always take a picture with a kid.

-Right. -Um, but in general, just even sitting down

with certain politicians-- there are certain people

on, you know, the extremes of both parties

who, there's no wiggle room for that,

and-and again, what I would argue is, look,

if this person wasn't in power,

if this person wasn't writing bills that affected your life,

fine, we can shun them, you know what I mean?

We can scream louder than them.

But we can't pretend they don't have some sort of stay,

some sort of impact.

And I think it's far more pernicious

to become stubborn and retreat to your corner

than it is to say:

Okay, I wholeheartedly disagree with you.

I think you may even, you know, infringe upon human rights,

you know, something that-that, you know,

offends me deeply as a person.

I'll still let this be a landscape of competing ideas,

and get you out that way.

Because I think the other way just becomes cyclical,

and everyone spirals and no one listens, and...

and I don't think you move the ball down the field

as effectively as you would if you say: Okay,

let's just, you know... out-talk me.

And these are elected officials, right?

I mean, they are responsible for passing legislation

that will affect our lives.

I mean, Chris did something-- Tim Scott came out--

and he said: Listen, you and I don't agree on a lot of things,

but I appreciate that you'll let me have a conversation on...

about things that I know you don't agree in.

And I think if we can do that,

maybe people can get better at having conversations,

at least at Thanksgiving around the dinner table,

with things that don't have to do with

without punching each other in the face.

Well, as your website name suggests,

we hope that this is a starting point.

Congratulations to both of you.

And hopefully, more people will register to vote

and more people will engage with their elected officials.

Chris, Mark, I appreciate having you on the show.

-Thanks, Trevor. -I appreciate it, man.


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