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Super PAC makes appeal for civility

Posted March 14, 2014

Joe Knott, a local lawyer, speaks in a television commercial for The American Foundations Committee.

— The ad starts out with short segments from MSNBC's "Hardball," CNN's "Crossfire" and other shows where the hosts and panelists are engaging in overheated rhetoric and, well, something that's supposed to pass as debate.

Then, local lawyer Joe Knott comes on the screen and shakes his head.

"Haven't we seen enough of bad-mannered politicians?" Knott asks. "Civil debate is the bedrock of our politics. I'm Joe Knott. Let's restore America's foundations."

The ad is one of two in which Knott appears on behalf of the The American Foundations Committee, a Super PAC that supported Republican 13th District Congressman George Holding in his 2012 campaign.

Knott declined to be interviewed, but Palmer Sugg, a lawyer who helps run the PAC, said neither ad is related to a potential campaign and, at least for the primary, the PAC was not going to be involved in the election.  Joe Knott Wind Change Civility Civility

American Foundations provided videos of both ads but noted that they were not in their final form. The tag line at the end of the drafts sends viewers to the wrong website.

Sugg said the ads, which will run on broadcast locally, as well as on cable television and as pre-roll on social media streaming services, are an appeal for move civility in public discourse.

Pointing to the talking head cable news shows, Sugg said, "They're just screaming at each other." 

It's worth noting that ads aired by the PAC during the 2012 election were attacks on Wake County Commissioner Paul Coble, who was running against Holding in the GOP primary.

Super PACs were created by recent court rulings. They may raise and spend unlimited money but may not coordinate with any particular candidate. In this case, American Foundations is campaigning for an idea rather than an individual, according to Sugg.  

Sugg said the "lack of civil discourse" in public debate has bothered the PAC's backers. So, he said, the PAC raised some money and produced two ads in hopes that they would spark some conversation. 

"It's a campaign about changing the dialogue," Sugg said, adding that the commercials were an invitation for people to have a conversation. Asked what the PAC's next steps might be, Sugg said there were no definitive plans. 

A wind change

"Civility," the commercial described above, will be the second ad that American Foundations airs. Its first ad, which begins running this weekend, according to FCC reports, is titled "Wind Change."

It begins with footage of World War II's D-Day invasion and President Franklin Roosevelt's radio address.

"Almighty God, our sons this day have set upon a mighty endeavor," Roosevelt says. The image quickly changes to a painting of President George Washington knelt in prayer. 

"Our leaders once led this country in prayer. Then, the wind changed," Knott says, as the picture switches to an image of the Supreme Court building. "School prayers – banned. The D-Day prayer – left off the war memorial. America once had a simple decency that's slipping away. I'm Joe Knott. It's time to restore America's foundations." 

Sugg said it is not aimed at pushing any specific piece of legislation or idea, other than the PAC's general appeal for civil discourse.

13 Comments

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  • Kenny Dunn Mar 17, 2014
    user avatar

    Beware of a wolf in sheep's clothing.

  • ssi Mar 17, 2014

    View quoted thread


    No, I'm pretty sure 99 did that with his opening statement.

  • scvmcdoc Mar 17, 2014

    Attacking the smaller news organizations for something the Fake news network does all the time is pretty low.....NC_INTEREST

    Did you not watch the add and instead just jump to conclusions? If you watch the add there are 5 clips used, 3 from FOX, 1 from MSNBC, and 1 from CNN. What small news organization was attacked here?

  • archmaker Mar 17, 2014

    George Holding is certainly civil during congressional debates - you won't catch him talking trash in Congress (unless, of course, he talks in his sleep...)

  • 12345_here Mar 17, 2014

    Until they put the fake news network in those ads, it is empty fluff.

    Attacking the smaller news organizations for something the Fake news network does all the time is pretty low.

  • Eric Hammond Mar 17, 2014
    user avatar

    "That our Founding Fathers were inspired by God in framing the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States of America.
    That Government should be limited as proscribed in the Constitution and writings of the Founding Fathers"

    how very interesting! Their second statement directly and completely opposes their first! Don't trust me, listen to Mr. Jefferson. The intent of the framers of the Constitution was to build a "wall of separation between church and state"

    It is not only "civil discourse" that is lacking, but TRUTH, HONESTY AND HONOR that is lacking on the radical ultra rich right wing! They should come out and admit what their goals REALLY are - the reinstatement of a serf class of disposable workers they can profit from

  • vivavars Mar 16, 2014

    From the Am Foundations website, and its leader, Ben Schaub:
    "OUR MISSION: To provide annual grants and funding from component Family Foundation Accounts to help develop and promote the Education of all Americans in the knowledge and understand of our Constitution, including the following resounding truths and principles as taught by our Founding Fathers:

    That our Founding Fathers were inspired by God in framing the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States of America

    That Government should be limited as proscribed in the Constitution and writings of the Founding Fathers

    The historical setting under which the constitution was created, along with the principles of governance espoused by our Founding Fathers.

    Acknowledging absolutes as the basis for our laws and God as the giver of freedom, and researching issues through the lens of the Constitution."

  • William Franklin Mar 15, 2014
    user avatar

    Just a bunch of your ordinary NC Rich People with a message - that they can run things so bug off.

  • Don Benfield Mar 15, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    An article calling for civility and right away you blow civility right out of the water!

  • scvmcdoc Mar 14, 2014

    "Sir, your a liar, why did you only show MSNBC? why not clips of Faux News"..... 99Percenters

    Hey 99, if you watch the video and pay attention you will see that of the 5 segments shown 3 are FOX, 1 is MSNBC, and 1 is CNN. Once again you have been proven wrong........ But then again they should show clips from the #1 news channel for the last 10+ years rather than left leaning drivel!!

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