The Epoch Times Editor Nanette Holt Discusses Conservative Students’ Fears at Florida Colleges

Jan 12, 2023

Live from Music Row Thursday 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 Florida-based editor and reporter for The Epoch Times, Nanette Holt to the newsmaker line to talk about her recent article which addresses the fears of conservative students as Florida colleges continue woke curriculum.

Leahy: In studio all-star panelist Roger Simon, senior columnist with The Epoch Times. A little bit later in this segment, we’ll bring one of your colleagues into the program.

Simon: Very good.

Leahy: Right now, I want to talk about the role of governors in this constitutional republic where the president and the federal administration are totally out of control governors.

A very important one, the governor in Arizona going in the wrong direction. Katie Hobbs, inaugurated in a controversial election, has just announced $40 million in funding for illegal aliens to attend Arizona colleges. Not a good idea, Katie, but she’s doing it.

Simon: An invitation.

Leahy: Yes, come on in! We’ll pay for everything! In Georgia, Brian Kemp, who did a good job getting re-elected, won handily over Stacey Abrams, but he’s got a little oddness going on. Tell us where he’s going.

Simon: Well, he’s going to Davos to the World Economic Forum. He’s joining up with Charles Schwab, the guy who runs that operation, who famously said, you will have nothing, and you will be happy, and I will have everything, including the corporate jet and all the rest. And we’d love to know whether Mr. Kemp goes along with that nonsense because it’s a new form of communism, actually.

Leahy: Why is he going to Davos? I mean, he’s purportedly looking for investment in Georgia.

Simon: When you say, as H. L. Mencken famously said, when somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money. I’ve met Kemp on a couple of occasions during various recent elections, and you can see this man is a politics-as-usual guy. He beat Stacey Abrams. Good for him. But he’s not exactly Ron DeSantis.

Leahy: Not exactly. Speaking of which, the good news is Governor Bill Lee is not going to Davos from Tennessee. Nor is Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. But your colleague is about to join us now.

Nanette Holt, editor and reporter with The Epoch Times has written a story about Governor DeSantis’s fight against woke ideology working in K-12, but not so much in colleges. Good morning, and welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.

Holt: Good morning. Good morning. Thank you for having me. It’s nice to be with you.

Leahy: Well, and of course, your colleague Roger Simon is here with us.

Simon: Good morning. Nice to meet you on the radio.

Holt: Yes! Yeah, for sure. It’s nice to cross paths finally.

Leahy: You’ve got a story at The Epoch Times that says, okay, Governor DeSantis is doing a good job, kind of fighting woke ideology in K-12 public schools, but when it comes to colleges in Florida, not so much. Tell us what you found.

Holt: And I’ve got to give credit where credit is due. I manage a team of reporters here as of late, and the reporter that really dug into this and I helped her behind the scenes was Darlene McCormick Sanchez. She was Pulitzer nominated, actually a finalist back in the days when that meant a whole lot more.

She’s a real tenacious bulldog-type reporter. And she got in and found all kinds of conservative students, conservative-minded students who said, we’re under attack here, we’re afraid to speak our views, we’ve got to get through and get the piece of paper in order to get out in the world and make a difference.

We’ve got to graduate, we got to pass our classes and do well. They actually expressed to us that they’re fearful, they’re being brainwashed. They’re fearful that their strong convictions are being beaten down on these college campuses.

And we reached out to the governor’s office and didn’t get a response. But of course, he’s very busy. Four days after our story revealed what these college students were saying about the wokeness on these Florida campuses, the governor sent a pretty strong memo to the Commissioner of Education in the state and the Chancellor of all the universities saying I want to know where all money is being spent on anything DEI or CRT.

Any of these activities that are DEI or CRT related, Critical Race Theory related, he’s cracking down. This didn’t start overnight, this wokeness on these college campuses.

Simon: Of course not. Don’t you think he’s planning some legislation by doing that?

Holt: Oh, for sure. I think he’s really positioning himself to make some big moves here in this 2023 legislative session. And then just a few days later, we wrote about again, he kind of upended the woke college board at New College, which has been going more and more and more woke and has had interestingly a declining enrollment as well. It’s a small liberal arts college.

That statutorily is supposed to be really dedicated to excellence and educational innovation and all these great things. But on their website, they have a very different mission. Their main focus is to be a just, diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.

Leahy: Excuse me while I throw up. (Laughs)

Simon: That is a new word for communists. (Laughter)

Holt: It’s quite different. And he’s gone after them, and the students are just pulling their hair out and gnashing their teeth on this college campus. But they know that the people he has appointed to the board there at that college are going to just completely change things. One of them is Chris Rufo, a journalist…

Leahy: Hold it, I didn’t know this. Chris Rufo, who’s done all the original reporting on the terrible permeation of Critical Race Theory in public schools both at K-12 and college level, he’s been named to the board of New College in Florida by Governor DeSantis.

Holt: Can you imagine the massing of peace going on there? They’re beside themselves. But if you want to send a message that you’re serious about woke at a college university, you put Chris Rufo on the board.

Simon: One of the things about wokeism in the schools, especially on the college level, is that so most of the people who run the colleges now are so poorly educated themselves, the only thing that they can do is woke curriculum. I mean, they don’t know any subject matter anymore. It’s beginning to drain out of their heads.

Holt: It really is kind of like a bubble on these campuses. But it was so disturbing to hear these conservative students tell us their stories. One, he’s a Christian. He didn’t set up a megaphone and a sandwich board on campus to be shouting his views, but he’s very open about his Christian beliefs.

He’s an open supporter of the Second Amendment, which used to be an okay thing to express. And he found himself investigated by the FBI. They came knocking on his door. He had been anonymously reported as an extremist.

And after about an hour of questioning, the FBI agent said, gosh, we’re really sorry that we bothered you. We don’t know why anyone would report you.

Simon: We need a new word for the FBI. KGB is not good enough.

Leahy: So these were interviews with students attending Florida public state universities, is that correct?

Holt: That is correct. I have to be very careful not to reveal too much because they were terrified of being unmasked.

Simon: We’re talking about the University of Florida, Gainesville probably.

Holt: I don’t want to say where they were, but…

Leahy: There’s a whole bunch of them down there.

Simon: That’s the big one.

Holt: We’ve got Florida State University we’ve got the University of Central Florida, University of North Florida.

Leahy: South Florida. You’ve gotta whole bunch, big place.

Holt: And they’re good schools. The University of Florida is number one for a lot of reasons.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Nanette Holt” by Nanette Holt.