Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed American radio talk show host, columnist for The American Spectator, Jeri Thompson, in studio to weigh in on local school board mask mandates and the challenge facing Governor Bill Lee’s executive order allowing parents to opt-out from the Biden administration.
Leahy: In studio for the very first time here on The Tennessee Star Report, Jeri Thompson. Good morning, Jeri.
Thompson: Good morning.
Leahy: Now, when was the last time you were in a radio studio?
Thompson: I was thinking about that this morning, and I actually think it was in my home back in Virginia when Fred and I had that radio show.
Leahy: That was a very well-done radio show. And you had several hundred radio stations mid-day?
Leahy: Wow. That was good.
Thompson: We had taken over the Paul Harvey – a lot of the Paul Harvey slot. Those were wonderful and great memories. Although my daughter still complains that I wouldn’t let her speak for hours of the day and she had to color on the floor while we talked. (Leahy laughs)
Leahy: It was a three-hour show?
Thompson: It was a long show. It was a commitment.
Leahy: That is a big commitment to do a three-hour radio show when you’ve got young kids. You and I first met on April 15, 2009, when I was hosting an Internet TV program with Pajamas TV in Los Angeles.
Leahy: Roger Simon was the guy who founded Pajamas Media, founded PJTV. Roger now, as you know, lives in Nashville. He’s lived here for a couple of years and is the senior editor at The Epoch Times. He’ll be in on Thursday. He sends his greetings to you by the way.
Thompson: Thank you. And if you all have not looked at The Epoch Times, it’s really well done and such a great alternative to well, the other thing that you might be getting here.
Leahy: Exactly. What other thing is that? I don’t remember. Crom, do you want to comment on the other thing we might be getting here?
Carmichael: Well, The Epoch Times is national.
Leahy: There you go.
Carmichael: I assume you’re talking about those people who read The Washington Post or The New York Times.
Thompson: I actually canceled my Wall Street Journal subscription, which I’ve had since 1989.
Leahy: Everybody here in Tennessee can read the number one conservative news site in the state, The Tennessee Star.
Thompson: The Tennessee Star.
Leahy: Of course. Jeri, tell us about how you have kept up on the issue of this mask policy, the mask hysteria out there. You have young, high school, and college kids. You’re tracking this very closely. You brought to my attention an article that I had not seen that was in New York Magazine. Tell us about that.
Thompson: Actually, I just saw it this morning when I woke up. Ironically, whenever one sees, in a publication such as the New York Magazine, anything that might betray the narrative that they’ve worked so hard to enforce on every level, what it really does is the question of what the mask can do and not do.
And also it points out the harm that the mask can do for children. The deprivation of oxygen and also the inability for it to actually do the thing that it’s supposed to be doing. I mean, that’s the thing that’s frustrating to me the most. And it’s a large study.
Leahy: The New York Magazine published August 20. Here’s the headline from Twitter: A Study Suggesting No Clear Benefit From School Mask Mandates Has Many Experts Questioning the Policy.
Thompson: Exactly. So, as my son put it: Mom, if we know they don’t work and the administration know they don’t work, they’re clearly not serious. So what’s really at play here?
Leahy: That’s a very good question. Here’s from Elissa M. Schechter-Perkins of Boston Medical Center on this study. ‘There are real downsides to asking children for this long with no known end date and without any clear upside. I’m not aware,’ she says,’ of any studies that show conclusively that kids wearing a mask in school has any positive effect.’
Thompson: Okay. So that being said, then you kind of have to flip to who’s watching the henhouse. Of course, you’ve got Memphis and Shelby County. And then now you’ve got Davidson County, Metro, and others joining in on questioning whether or not they’re going to allow parents to actually have the ‘privilege’ – and I use those in air quotes – of deciding what’s best for their children. And I think that’s the most incredibly frustrating position to be in. To be paying taxes, to be paying to a school, whether it’s public or private, knowing that this information is out there is completely inconclusive, and that is generous, on the mask stuff.
So let’s figure out what happens when the parents don’t agree with the school board or don’t agree with the administration of the school where your child is. Then it flips back to where the governor is, whether or not the governor’s executive order actually has the power that he hopes that it might. And perhaps it doesn’t, as you pointed out here earlier. What is the power that the Tennessee people actually have under a mandate?
Carmichael: Well, Jeri, what I don’t understand is why does a school board, if the governor puts out an executive order that says that ultimately it is the parent who has the power to determine whether or not their child wears a mask if the governor’s executive order doesn’t have that controlling power, what law gives that controlling power to a school board to be able to demand that a child do something that, in the parents’ opinion, supported now by evidence that wearing a mask will actually be harmful to their child, where does a school board get that power?
Thompson: Well, I think they’re going to have to prove that. Also, there is a case right now. An attorney name, Russell Newman from Wilson County, has a case before a judge in Williamson County asking for clarification of what are the powers and what are the rights of a Tennessee citizen under an emergency mandate?
That’s actually a case that he filed in March, and it was heard last week. And the decision will be this week. I’m watching that really closely because that’s really going to be a trigger to what happens next I think.
Leahy: So the governor, in this executive order, I think, designed to avoid a special session, said two things. And Crom and I read over that order carefully. When you read the order, it seems to be simply saying, well, if a school board puts a mask mandate in, then parents have the right to opt out.
The governor, subsequently, in his interview with Clay Travis, asserted that that order gave the school boards the right to do mask mandates, but also gave the right to parents to opt out. Crom read that and said that’s not really in the order. What do you think, Jeri?
Thompson: I think he’s trying to split the baby. And I don’t think it’s going to work. And ultimately it’s not satisfying anybody.
Carmichael: Well, when you say you don’t think it’s going to work, I mean, when school starts …
Thompson: School has begun!
Carmichael: Have the government-run schools already begun?
Thompson: They have. Williamson County are weeks ago. I know the private schools are in too.
Carmichael: So in Williamson County, the government-run schools, I separate those into private schools because, in a private school, a person is choosing to be there. In the government-run school, they’re assigned to be there.
By the way, the solution to all this is to do away with the teachers’ unions and the boards of education that can force a parent to send their child to a school that, in the opinion of the parents, is failing.
Thompson: I’ve been a school voucher proponent since I was working with the Republican National Committee. And no, I probably wouldn’t be working there now.
Leahy: (Laughs) They could use you though.
Thompson: The school voucher situation, I think, is definitely going to be coming up.
Carmichael: My question is in Williamson County, if my child is going to a government-run school and they are in kindergarten, are there parents who are telling the school sending a note saying my child shall not be required to wear a mask?
Thompson: They are.
Carmichael: And what’s happening?
Thompson: Actually, one son, one young man was sent home. He was sent home, so guess what? People said they didn’t have standing if you went to court with that, they now have standing because there’s now a grievance.
Leahy: Very interesting.
Carmichael: So now it will go to court.
Thompson: Hey, it’s game on out there, people. If you don’t know it, it’s on.
Leahy: There’s one other twist to it. Now the Biden administration is threatening to sue the Bill Lee administration on civil rights charges when he tells the school boards that they can’t impose mask mandates without allowing parents to opt-out.
Thompson: Do you think that DOJ is going to be any more effective than his CIA is in Afghanistan?
Leahy: That is a good line to close this segment at.
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Jeri Thompson” by Miranda CC-BY-SA 2.0.