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CNN Tonight

On One-Year Anniversary Of Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine, Brad Paisley Releases Song Featuring Pressident Zelenskyy; Murdaugh Admits To Lying To Investigators About His Whereabouts; Pulse Of The People: Who Should Decide If Gender Issues Are To Be Discussed In Public Schools; Governor DeSantis' Education Bill Power Over State Universities; Real Age Versus The Age Inside Your Head. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 24, 2023 - 22:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to say, here I am, this is who I am.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Standing up to the oldest hate, educating and never forgetting.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to CNN TONIGHT.

We've got something special for you tonight. Country Star Brad Paisley is here live with us with a brand new song honoring the people of Ukraine who have been fighting for their country for a year now, and the song includes an unexpected guest.

I'm guessing you recognize that voice, but if not, Brad Paisley going to tell us who that is in a moment.

Plus, a dramatic day in the Alex Murdaugh trial, how will the jury respond to the defendant who admits he's been lying to everyone for years?


CREIGHTON WATERS, PROSECUTOR: You lied to Maggie, didn't you?


WATERS: You lied to Paul?

MURDAUGH: Sometimes.

I would have lied to Randy at some point, I'm sure.

WATERS: Did you lie to him about the last time you saw your wife and son alive?


(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: All right. We're going to bring you up to speed on that trial.

Also, part two of our voter panel. I sit down with six parents from around the country to talk about gender issues and who should decide how those are discussed in schools.


CAMEROTA: How many of you believe the governor should be making decisions about curriculum in that state's public schools, any state? Show of hands. So is nobody raising their hands that a governor should be making decisions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The governor is not qualified.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely not, absolutely not.


CAMEROTA: Okay. So, our panel has a lot to talk about tonight and they are standing by, as you can see.

But, first, we want to bring in Country Music Star Brad Paisley to talk about his new song called Same Here. Brad, great to see you.

BRAD PAISLEY, COUNTRY MUSIC STAR: It's great to see you guys. Thanks a lot for wanting to talk to me tonight.

CAMEROTA: So, we played a little snippet of your new song and I'll just do the big reveal. That was President Zelenskyy in your song. It's not every day that President Zelenskyy is in a country song. So, how did that come to pass?

PAISLEY: Well, about a -- I guess, it was last summer, we did a fundraiser for Ukraine on NBC with a bunch of celebrities and singers and actors. And, you know, they were looking for an original song at the time. And then when corporations get involved trying to write something for an event, it doesn't really work, because it's -- you know, the next thing you know there are all these legal issues.

So, the song got scrapped but I had already written this, and in the process, they heard it. And one thing led to another. And he's -- President Zelenskyy is very smart about how to reach people. He saw this as an opportunity, I think, to go straight for the heart and basically say through a melody and a song that we're all the same. And that was the point I was trying to make, is that these people fighting for freedom and showing us in so many ways what it looks like to really crave the things that we take for granted over here. But, yes, I wanted to write something that kind of talked about the world's similarities and free people.

CAMEROTA: And you did that and you achieved it. And in the process, you had this Zoom call with President Zelenskyy. What did you two talk about? PAISLEY: Well, what we had done in the process since the show had been being worked on, I said, you know, I said I was thinking about putting a Ukrainian singer at the end of this. But wouldn't it be even more impactful if President Zelenskyy wanted to take the last couple minutes of the song and just talk about things and basically said anything you want to say, talk about how we're the same, the things that matter to Ukrainian that probably matter also to an American. And the list was -- you know, if it tells you anything how similar we are, we talked for 45 minutes before we whittled down what went in the song.

CAMEROTA: Okay. So, let's listen to just a portion of that.



PAISLEY: Hello, Mr. President

ZELENSKYY: Hi, glad to see you.

PAISLEY: What's same here in Ukrainian?

ZELENSKYY: Tak CaMo. We speak different languages in our life. Yes, but I think we appreciate the same things, children, freedom, our flag, our soldiers, our people.



CAMEROTA: That's beautiful, Brad. I mean, that's it. So, what was it like having this -- having him for 45 minutes and having that conversation?

PAISLEY: Really surreal. I mean, we're talking about somebody that I see as he's on the frontline of democracy in the world and he was so generous with his, you know, with his comments but also his time and also his attention to wanting to be a part of something that reaches people with the message he wants to send. And it all was, I guess, meant to be because this was the kind of thing really I can sit here all night explaining it but there's no explanation to how this happened.

CAMEROTA: Is it true that he also offered you some edits to the song?

PAISLEY: Oh, yes. Actually, the last verse was its own thing. It was a really -- it was similar to this. But there were a couple of lines that were little smaller in scale. And he mentioned some things that would be great as far as the last, the last lines of the song go. And that's what I -- I didn't change them exactly to what he said but I got close and, you know, I took his advice on that and definitely one of those stranger songwriter notes I've ever received.

CAMEROTA: So T.V. star -- from comedian to T.V. star, president, global leader during wartime, songwriter, you know? That's -- PAISLEY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Yes. So, Brad, are you thinking about going to -- I know you've been -- even before this, I know that you have been trying to help the people in Ukraine. You've been involved with helping the displaced. There are so many millions of people who've been displaced and rebuilding houses. Are you planning to go to Ukraine?

PAISLEY: I'd love to. I mean, I don't have any plans at this point but I would love to. When it's right, when the time is right and everything is safe enough and the kind of thing that's not a bad move, I would like to do that.

But I think that it's going to be -- you know, I really would like -- it's one of the things we talked about. It would be really amazing to see these people I'm talking about first hand over there, you know, if I'm going to need to put my money where my mouth is here.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And, Brad, what do you think Americans get wrong about Ukrainians or Ukraine?

PAISLEY: Probably a lot of things. Any time that we assume that they're different than us and too drastic of a scale, I think we're on the wrong track as human beings. These things we talk about in the song, the first verse of the song is about California from the vantage point of me in Tennessee. The second verse is about a wedding in Mexico and seeing just all of the same exact emotions even though I didn't understand a word of what was said. And then we moved on to across the sea, to the hotspot of the world really.

And any time we make assumptions that were just different, we're on the wrong track. People want the same things and, you know, it's really inspiring to watch them as they are fighting for these things that we have already.

CAMEROTA: Yes. The charity is called United 24. All the proceeds and royalties from your song will go to that charity. And one of our panelists here is so moved by the song and by listening to you that he just whispered to me that he will offer -- well, I'll let him say it. If we can get Frank Luntz on camera one, he wants to make an offer to you, if that's possible, for $10,000. Go ahead, Frank.

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER AND COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST: So, Brad, you're a cultural icon and a treasure to the country. I know of the things you've done already and I so appreciate this coming from a Ukrainian background. All you have to do to me is say to me, you share a cup of coffee, because I want to thank you in person and I'll donate $10,000 to your charity tonight. What you've done is awesome and we need more Americans like you to step up and be heard. Thank God for you, Brad.

CAMEROTA: So, is that a yes or no, Brad?

PAISLEY: That's an absolutely, yes. I'm buying the coffee.

Let's do it. So, are you up in New York all the time or are you just there right now? LUNTZ: I'm here now but I'll go to wherever I have to go.

PAISLEY: Well, I'll meet you in New York. There is great coffee. Let's do it.

LUNTZ: You got it. Deal.

PAISLEY: It means the world to me that you would do that and all of the proceeds are going to go to build 4,200 houses for people, basically. Because these folks have lost their homes and so we got to put a roof back over their heads. That's what my part of this United 24 charity is doing. Thank you, Frank.

CAMEROTA: That's so wonderful, building bridges, building homes for people and you two creating this bridge here. Brad, it's so great to talk to you. Thanks so much for sharing the song with us.


It's beautiful. The sentiment behind it is so powerful. And we can't wait to check back in with you and see how it's doing.

PAISLEY: Well, thank you. And, again, Frank, you know, I like cream in mine.

LUNTZ: You can have whatever you want. I'll even pay for the sugar.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And unbeknownst to you guys, I'm coming along.

Okay, thanks so much, Brad, we'll talk soon.

PAISLEY: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Okay. We're here in the studio with CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson, Pollster and Communication Strategist Frank Luntz, New York Times Emma Goldberg and former Professional Tennis Player Patrick McEnroe. Guys, great to have you here.

Frank, I'll just start with you, because that is really beautiful and important what he's doing, particularly at a time where Americans are reassessing how they feel about the involvement, you know, contributing money to Ukraine's war effort.

LUNTZ: Actually, they're not. And one thing you should know is that I did the same thing with your brother to have lunch with him. I wanted an hour. He gave me 2.5 hours. It was worth every dime.

PATRICK MCENROE, FORMER PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: I'll give you three but I don't know if I can afford what my brother can afford. But that's okay.

LUNTZ: We are the same. 70 percent of Americans want us to do exactly what we're doing or even more and only 28 percent want us to do less. The majority of Republicans, Independents, Democrats, the vast majority want us engaged, want us involved and appreciate the investments because we see that this is a crime against humanity. And let us not mince words, either we hold the Russians accountable now or we will have even worse consequences later.

CAMEROTA: Emma, how do you see it?

EMMA GOLDBERG, BUSINESS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, I think that's absolutely right. We were hearing from both Putin and Zelenskyy this week that there is many -- there is a lot of months of battle ahead of us. And I think when you look at the toll of what is going on, it's 8,000 lives at least of non-combatants lost in Ukraine. There has been 8 million refugees filling in Europe.

So, this is a humanitarian crisis that costing lives. It's displacing millions of people. And then you're seeing the cascading ripples affecting oil prices, our economy, we're all being touched by this. And that's why I love initiatives like the song because it's reminding us this is actually closer to home than we might like to think. And while a lot of people would probably rather look away from the images of the devastation, we have to appreciate how up close it is and how many lives this is upending.

CAMEROTA: And I totally agree with you, music is the universal language. Everybody resonates with everybody, any culture that you're in. You understand the poignancy of music. And so I agree that he's using a tool that is so helpful to raise awareness and raise money.

MCENROE: And this is why you let the musicians and the artists write the songs, right, be the creative forces. I love what he said when he talked about not letting the corporations get involved in making the song.

And I think this is something we all really missed during the pandemic, right? I know for me when I could go out to a restaurant, see my friends and go, I'm -- literally, when I went here from New York to see my first live music in a small club, and that brings people together. And as Frank said, Brad Paisley is a legend in our culture and in the music business. And to see the way he's doing so much good for the world and bringing people together with his music is just awesome.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. I think, first of all, from musical perspective, it's so important, right? It brings us so much joy, so much togetherness, brings about so much emotion and so much connectivity. And then you look at a couple of other things in terms of similarities that we all have. What do we want? We want safety, security, opportunity. We want our families to be well and prosper. You know, we want love. We want cheer. And we just want to have happy lives. And to see that being really taken away in such a -- just such a horrific way is really hard to stomach.

One other points, Alisyn, it is also about world order. Ukraine certainly has connected with so many people just based upon their response, their resiliency. They're just saying, heck, no, probably another word they use, but that this is just not going to happen. And then you see it on a large world stage of how the world has come together and to some degree how the world is endangered by what is happening now and how will the ending of this war really affect us all. We're not really far removed from that, especially when we talk about ballistic missiles and that type thing that can hit us. So, it's a really teachable and turning time in the world right now.

LUNTZ: And, actually, the ending part, we know the consequences of November 9th, was just the day that the Berlin Wall fell. We know the consequences of September 11th.

JACKSON: That's right.

LUNTZ: Of January 6th. I think this is the fourth great date, February 24th. Because on this day, we are put to the test, what will we do now? You saw what happened in the buildup to World War II. The world just allowed the German effort to move forward further and further and further and did nothing. We see what happened when we let terrorism go unchallenged, unchecked.


And I know that there are some Republicans who want to stop the funding and a few Democrats as well. The public says absolutely not. Why is it that the American people have learned more from history than these extremist members on both sides of the aisle who say, we're only focused on the money we give to our country, just for us?

The fact is this is for us. This is for us. This is for them. This is for the entire global community. You stop aggression or it will continue and it will overwhelm us all.

CAMEROTA: And we will talk about the politics of it coming up in the program. Thank you all for that.

Now, here, Alex Murdaugh, we need to talk about this trial. He testified for six hours today and was grilled about his alibi, his pill addiction, his lies to police and to his family. So, how will the jury react to all of his lying?


CAMEROTA: Today, Alex Murdaugh took the stand for six hours in his double murder trial. He admitted he lied to investigators repeatedly about his whereabouts but insisted he did not kill his wife and son.


WATERS: All right. Well, let me ask you a question then. So, what you're telling to this jury is that it's a random vigilante, the 12- year-old 5'2" people that just happened to know that Paul and Maggie were both at Moselle on June 7th, that knew that they would be at the kennels alone on June the 7th, that knew that you would not be there but only between the times of 8:49 and 9:02 that they show up without a weapon, assuming that they're going to find weapons and ammunition in there, that they commit this time during that short time window and then they travel the same exact route that you do around the same time Alameda.


That's what you're trying to tell this jury?

MURDAUGH: You have got a lot of factors in there, Mr. Waters, all of which I do not agree with but some of which I do.


CAMEROTA: Back with me, Joey Jackson, Patrick McEnroe, Emma Goldberg, we're also joined by former Congressman Mondaire Jones.

Joey, how did -- I mean, it seems like the jury is going to have to suspend a lot of disbelief to believe that entire scenario, as the prosecutor just laid out.

JACKSLY: They very well may, right? So, this gives perspective to what they were doing as in the prosecution and talked about all those financial crimes, right, talking about how he ripped off every client, whether you're a paraplegic, whether you're a teenager, no matter what you are, he take your money, could careless and he would lie to you, and he'd look you in the eye when he did it and certainly the prosecution in their closing will say just as he looked at you and said he didn't do this, you could be as assured of his guilt.

So, I think clearly they established he's a liar. The issue is whether they've established he is a murderer, and that's going to be the critical question. But you really have to look and you have to look and isolate the timeline. There're a lot of things that he has to explain that I think he did not explain to the level of satisfaction that a jury might say, you know what, perhaps you're not guilty.

CAMEROTA: I mean, the timeline, it's pretty crazy. In terms of the timeline, he was caught on cell phone audio down at the kennels, as they say, at 8:45 P.M. Police believed his some and wife were shot between 8:49, so four minutes later, and 9:02. And where was he?

MCENROE: And he went back in the car, back to the main house.

CAMEROTA: And he didn't hear any gunshots, I guess?

MCENROE: There are a lot of questions that, to me, were not answered today. I mean, the obvious, let's state the obvious, if you all know, which is that if there is one juror that is sympathetic and believes him, he's going to get off and apparently two other people on the jury were crying, at least yesterday during the trial.

Now, to me, having looked at what this -- he and this family has done, I mean, the lineage in this family goes to the early 1900 of them sort dominating the prosecution in this part of South Carolina. So, just listening to this man, not having the knowledge that my friend next to me has about the legal business here, just watching it as a layman, I'm thinking to myself, this guy is used to, dare I say, getting away with murder in his life. It just seemed like he figures he's going to find a way --

CAMEROTA: Like the entitlement. MCENROE: Because that's what he and his family seemingly have done for many, many years in this part of the country.

CAMEROTA: Mondaire, no murder weapon, and I know that you're shaking your head because --

MONDAIRE JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No DNA evidence, no. Look, I think that the timeline is damming here. I mean, it is all circumstantial to your point, Joey, but, I mean, how much -- how generous should we be to this guy in his recitation of his own experience that evening before concluding that there is no way he didn't at least know he did this double-murder?

CAMEROTA: But do you think the no murder weapon and no DNA is enough to sway a jury? I mean, how powerful is that to you?

JONES: It could be. To me personally, it's not very compelling given all the other information that we have.

CAMEROTA: Not only that, there are shell casings, okay? So, there are still shell casings and there are still cartridges from this AR-style rifle that his family owned. Now, he says that gun went missing. But it matches other shell casings on the property. I don't know. That to me ties the family to the murder weapon.

GOLDBERG: I mean, think this is a watershed moment because he had been silent for so long and I think a lot of people were waiting to see, okay, well, what will his defense be, what will he say, and the fact that he got up there and kind to told on himself. You know, he presented this image of someone living a double life, someone capable of misrepresenting his whereabouts on the night of the killings, someone capable of lying repeatedly to cover up financial crimes.

So, just standing up there and revealing a very consistent pattern of dishonesty, that's hard to take in, in the context of this entire story.

JONES: I think it's also significant that he took the stand in the first place, right? I mean, typically, defendants do that as a last resort. They clearly thought this wasn't going the way they wanted it to be going. So, you know, as a Hail Mary, the guy is going to take the stand. I don't think he acquitted himself well today.

CAMEROTA: All right. We shall see. Thank you all for your input on that.

Stick around everyone, because when we come back, one of our signature voter panels is going to tackle the culture war issue in the schools. What these parents across the political spectrum think of Governor DeSantis' efforts to control curriculum.



CAMEROTA: All right. Our panel is standing by to share thoughts on this hot button topic. In part two of our voter panel, we brought together parents from across the political spectrum to tackle the fraught topic of gender issues in school and if the governor of any state should be the decision-maker on curriculum.


CAMEROTA: How many of you believe the governor should be making decisions about curriculum in that state's public schools, any state? Show of hands. So, is nobody raising their hands that a governor should be making decisions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The governor is not qualified. That's not how the governors --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely not, absolutely not.

CAMEROTA: So, show of hands, how many of you are comfortable that Governor DeSantis is weighing in, in such a way, in Florida's curriculum and education? Show of hands.

None of you are. Show of hands. Is Governor DeSantis canceling certain curriculum that he doesn't like? Is he engaging in cancel culture when he gets rid of these certain tenants of, say, black history? Do you consider that cancel culture? Show of hands.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's what it looks like.



How about don't say gay?

ROXANNE BECKFORD HOGE, CALIFORNIA PARENT: That was not the name of (inaudible) actually.


NARESH VISSA, FLORIDA PARENT: Just don't say gay. I don't know where that come from because it's not in any bill. I read the bill. Nowhere does it say don't say gay.


VISSA: There's not even the term gay in the bill.

SCOTT: And it's allowing parents to sue the schools.

CHRIS CANDICE TUCK, VIRGINIA PARENT: Oh my, God. So, if they used the term homosexual and sexual identity and sexual orientation as (inaudible) for gay, hundreds of millions of Americans have looked at the bill in Florida that don't say gay bill and you can sit there and say something as I'm sorry, but this is stupid as it doesn't even say the word gay. That is dishonest. That just opens up --

VISSA: Dude, you said it as don't say gay bill. There is nothing about the word gay. It's being called the don't say sex. Don't talk about sex bill (inaudible) or don't talk --

TUCK: It's not about don't talk about sex. (Inaudible)

UNKNOWN: It's not about sex.

TUCK: -- primary grades. It's about not teaching that people of different sexual orientations and gender identities exist. That is the bill. That is the entire 100 percent point of the bill.

CAMEROTA: But one of the ways they describe it is between kindergarten and third grade. Okay? So, can you respond, Chris, to that? Is that appropriate that they're not going to teach sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade? And I know the bill is vague. But in terms of that age range, is that something that we should be comfortable with or not?

TUCK: Until you define these terms, we will never agree. So, I don't want my third grader to know that people with different families like ours, this absolutely. There is no reason not to teach kindergarten through third grader --

VISSA: I agree with you.

TUCK: -- that people are (inaudible) -- see, but you say that. This bill stops that. You say that but this (inaudible) of removing that conversation and in my school, in my county, this same bill was in effect, my children would not be able to do school projects about their family because I happen to be transgender.

They won't be able to read books that they like to read because some of the characters are even gay. That is exactly the intent of these bills. And so that is the disingenuous part. The bill is so vague and I'm sorry to get upset, but this is just -- this never ends. It's books in school libraries. Nobody is trying to sexualize kids, nobody. It's not happening.

CAMEROTA: Naresh, do you accept that, that it is not -- nobody is sexualizing kids in public schools, that's not happening?

VISSA: I don't know if I necessarily agree with that. I do agree with what was just said about it -- look, my son I believe has a homosexual teacher and yeah. Valentine's Day, it's a student (inaudible), I'll say what did you do for Valentine's Day, she wouldn't be allowed to say it according to the bill from what I read and that's part of the bill that I do not agree with but the other parts of the bill when it comes to the sexualizing, absolutely I do agree with it.

TUCK: It's already a crime for an adult to have inappropriate sexual conversations with a child. It's been a crime.

SPENCER: It is so clear on what the foundation of that bill is. You know, it's okay to -- for heterosexual teacher to say this is my spouse, this is my husband, this is my wife, these are my kids and nobody sexualizes that at all. We are trying to indoctrinate another generation of kids to believe that the only way to love people or to be in relationship is to be in a heteronormative relationship and that is sad. That is absolutely sad.

SCOTT: I mean, my daughter has a friend in her class with two moms and so they should be able to speak freely about that and learn about all the different kinds of family dynamics and twist it however you want, that is exactly the target. These are hateful bills. And it's not doing anybody any good. This legislation needs to stop.

TUCK: Yes, the bills that are happening in places like Texas and Florida and Utah and Tennessee happen in their states. I am literally not allowed legally in the state of Tennessee because of this so- called drag bill because it prohibits people who dress different than the biological sex.

This is real. This is affecting our lives. There are transgender Americans and transgender children who are fleeing states. My family has an escape plan. It's not -- it's not a joke. Most people have never had a conversation with a transgender person and yet, the more than half the (inaudible) legislating on it.

SCOTT: I don't think that anyone has any business deciding for anyone about their bodies, their sexual orientation, how they live. It just needs to, I think, I wish it would just stop.

HOGE: What we could have in America, we should have in America, the greatest schools available to anyone anywhere and let's move forward from that and not cast aspersions on other people and say people are hateful.


This is the most loving, generous, amazing country on God's green earth.

ACQUANDIS UY, FLORIDA PARENT: I think I'm probably more cynical on this whole piece because I live it. I'm impacted by it. Every single decision affects my life and my family's life every day. So, I don't feel like there is a true solution.

VISSA: Take ownership and responsibility for yourself, your family and your children. If you're going to depend on DeSantis or the White House or whoever your elected leaders are to make the change that you want, you're just going to keep being upset yelling at the T.V. Take responsibility. Take ownership.

SPENCER: You know, I agree with Naresh to the extent that look, your vote matters. Voting matters. And, you know, for those that are at home and feel that this culture war is a real thing, make sure you're at the polls to vote because voting does make a difference.

CAMEROTA: All right. Our panel wants to respond to everything they've just heard. Who should decide what topics are allowed in schools and which are taboo? That's next.


[22:40:00] CAMEROTA: All right. You just heard from our voter panel on who should decide if gender issues are discussed on school. No one on the panel regardless of where they were politically felt it should be the governor. But Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just put forth a new bill this week focusing on what is allowed to be taught at state colleges.

Back with me, we have Frank Luntz, Patrick McEnroe, Emma Goldberg and Mondaire Jones. I thought that was so fascinating, guys, that none of them regardless of where they stood, felt that the governor should br deciding on curriculum, but Governor DeSantis, as you know, has made this his brand that he's doing that.

And now just this week, he has decided that he is sort of expanding his control over curriculum. He wants to ban gender studies now at Florida colleges. So nowhere between kindergarten and senior year in college. Will you be able to discuss this stuff if he has his way, Frank?

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER AND COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST: Well, this is good for him in a Republican primary and his numbers are gaining and gaining and Trumps are falling and falling. DeSantis, I believe, with an agenda like this, could be the front runner within the next 100 days or so.

But you've asked the American people again and again what matters most to them when we include issues, we include diversity, equity and inclusion, they tell us almost unanimously, it's the quality of education that matters. And if you don't get the quality right, if you don't teach people how to read and add and subtract and to balance a bank account, then you're failing your students. We have to get the priorities right and they're getting the priorities wrong.

CAMEROTA: That's exactly what this panel said that they all felt that woke, however you want to define it, is getting too much emphasis over reading, writing, arithmetic.

PATRICK MCENROE, HOST, HOLDING COURT PODCAST: Well, I mean, let's go back to what woke actually is, which is caring for a sector of society that's been marginalized in the past and is being socially thoughtful about what should happen in the future. When it comes to the governor of any state being involved in what the curriculum is, to me that's just absurd.

I mean, I go -- my kids go to public school in New York and I look at the Department of Education, I trust the people that are educators to teach my kids what they're supposed to be learning in school. And to Frank's point, obviously the most important thing is that they're learning how to read and write, learning skills. At the same time, let people be whomever they want to be. This whole idea that likes you can -- these people are feeling marginalized because of their sexual orientation is just the most absurd thing --

CAMEROTA: Not that they're feeling marginalized but that people are --

MCENROE: The people are wanting to marginalize them. And then you --

LUNTZ: And let parents decide. In the end, you'll lose an election as Terry McAuliffe did in Virginia if you say that we should put some sort of barrier to keep parents from making that decision or (inaudible) so we have to keep parents away from school boards and that cost him the election.


EMMA GOLDBERG, BUSINESS REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, I also want to talk about how challenging this is for young people because they are experiencing on the one hand a real opening up of culture and of social norms. They have a lot more language to talk about gender fluidity. I mean, when you look at the transgender population in the country right now, 18 percent are made up of younger people.

You have a lot more language to talk about their gender identity. And then on the other hand, they're being confronted with this political backlash. And there are 150 bills across 25 states that are trying to regulate, you know, the behavior of transgender people and gender identity conversations. So, there is a real whiplash for young people and I think that's an impossibly challenging situation to be in.

LUNTZ: Can I ask you a question? What percentage of Americans are transgender? I've been looking --

CAMEROTA: I have (inaudible) look it up, too. All I could find, I mean, I found two sources, it was 1 percent.

LUNTZ: So why are we spending so much time on 1 percent and we're not spending the same on the other 99 percent? I don't understand that.

MCENROE: Because as you said --


MONDAIRE JONES, POLITCAL COMMENTATOR: It's a great question for Governor DeSantis. I can tell you that LGBTQ+ youth contemplate suicide anywhere between three to four times as often as (inaudible) or heterosexual counterparts. People are dying. People are thinking about killing themselves.

People's entire identity, his ways of life are being erased every single day because of what people like Governor DeSantis are doing. I'd love to have a, I guess, a more extended conversation about what happened in Virginia. I was in Congress at the time and there was a lot going on and frustration that the Biden agenda wasn't being implemented as quickly.

You know, there was a whole debate over infrastructure and build back better. When you did the polling of parents, they cared less than older people who are watching Fox News about certain topics that were being taught in schools, people who didn't even have school aged children. And so, I just don't want to read too much into what was happening.

LUNTZ: It was so memorable and -- JONES: Sure, that one line he did.


LUNTZ: That one line he gave change changed that entire election. And if you ask Governor McAuliffe, he would acknowledge it, he would take it back. It's not what he meant.

CAMEROTA: Because parents want to believe that they should be involved even if they are not equipped, to your point, as subject matter experts. They want to feel as though they're involved (inaudible).

JONES: And when do you see parents getting involved in the day to day (inaudible) what their kids are being taught outside of this one issue?

CAMEROTA: It's such a point.


JONES: Let's be intellectually honest about it.

LUNTZ: Let's be intellectually honest. What COVID did because it destroyed the education system in this country, but what it actually did was students were at home in the kitchen, parents were listening to what their kids were being taught and they freaked out.

For the first time ever, moms and dads across the country realized what their children were learning and they were outraged by it. It's why you see it even in places like San Francisco. People voting against school boards because they're so frustrated that their kids aren't learning critical thinking, aren't learning problem solving, aren't learning conflict resolution.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Civil discourse for sure.

LUNTZ: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: And by the way, I just want to say that I don't know how many, you know, transgender people there are in the country but when I tried to look it up, that's the statistic that I saw. I mean, truly, this is not -- I don't want anybody to think there was some sort of deep dive research.

But I also think because it's so new and to your point, not that the phenomenon is new, but the conversation we're having, that it's very possible that there aren't actual, you know, hard numbers and statistics on this yet. But finally, to your point, people have a language to talk about it.

So that's why it feels as though there is this sort of sudden blossoming of all this because now, we talk about it openly. I mean, I remember, you know, 25 years ago we used to say a man trapped in a woman's body. That's what we called it. A man trapped in a woman's body or a woman trapped in a man's body. That's what we called it. So, it existed. And, you know, I certainly knew had friends who felt that way. But in terms of all our new language, I think it's new and I don't think that we know yet what this is all--

MCENROE: Here's my recommend -- excuse me -- my recommendation to us. Listen to your kids because my girls come home from school and they go, I said, oh, do you have a boyfriend or what is going on? Dad, everybody is bi. They're like -- my teenage daughters are like, and I'm just saying like -- I'm trying to digest that for a second and I'm sacred --


LUNTZ: You will scare the living hell out of people watching.

JONES: Been there, done that.

MCENROE: And then like, okay. You know what, I'm like, okay. We girls got it under control. Okay.

CAMEROTA: I understand it.


CAMEROTA: Yeah, I know. It's a totally brave new world.

LUNTZ: What the hell is going on at the McEnroe house? That's what people are asking right now.

CAMEROTA: And Mondaire, what else would you like to say about this?

JONES: Look, I just hope that we remember -- the truth is, the number is actually quite small in percentage-wise, but I just hope that we remember these are real people --

CAMEROTA: Of course.

JONES: --being used as political footballs. I grew up closeted. You know, wondering if there was a place for me in this world, not seeing a certain future for myself and it was because of politicians like Ron DeSantis that gave me the kind of emotional trauma that I experienced growing up and that's still today too many young LGBTQ people experience.

LUNTZ: That's not fair to the governor. He is responding to tens of -- hundreds of thousands of parents who are concerned about --

CAMEROTA: Is he or is he ginning it up and then they are picking up on what he said?

JONES: Yeah, he's the one that put this on like the -- on a political radar. He's leading this and other people are following him.

LUNTZ: He has spoken up about it more than anyone but again, parents if you ask them, want the focus on the core issues and these talents and skills that we need for the future.

JONES: Of course.

LUNTZ: They don't want to focus on the 1 percent. They want to focus --

CAMEROTA: But they also don't want it to be banned. I totally hear you and I agree and our voter panel said the same thing. But they also want you to be able to ask your teacher as he said how Valentine Day was.

MCENROE: The schools are making it the focus. DeSantis is making it the focus.

JONES: That's exactly right. Parents want children to be taught about the world as it exists, okay.

MCENROE: Just because you're --


JONES: It's a disservice educationally to not teach about certain subjects.


LUNTZ: They want their kids to (inaudible).

JONES: And there is nothing unfair about that.

LUNTZ: They want their kids to be kind and civil and respectful.

CAMEROTA: Great point. Let's leave it there because we have a lot more to talk about.

MCENROE: Just like we are.

CAMEROTA: Everyone -- and civil discourse.


CAMEROTA: Everyone stick around because we want to ask you, what's your age in your head versus how old you really are? What do you think you are in terms of how old, but it's totally different than your biological age. We'll dig into those numbers, next.



CAMEROTA: Here's an interesting question. How old are you in your own head? That's the subject of a great article in "The Atlantic" this week about subjective age. We're back with Frank Luntz, Patrick McEnroe, Emma Goldberg, and former congressman, Mondaire Jones. Mondaire, you're 35 in real life. How old are you in your head?

JONES: About 30.

CAMEROTA: You are? You're sticking there?

JONES: I'm sticking there. I'm still not excited about necessarily going out on the weekends and being social past a certain time like I'm very happy to stay at home and watch Netflix (inaudible).

CAMEROTA: And maybe you are 35 in that case.

JONES: No, but I also feel like I could if I wanted to and, you know, I'll stay out until like maybe 11:00 or midnight but after that I've done this before. I've gotten that out of my system.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Emma, how old are you really.


CAMEROTA: How old are you in your head.

GOLDBERG: In my head I am forever 21. I've decided I'm embracing free spirit. I -- people talk about on TikTok about manifesting. So, I'm manifesting being just early 20s forever.

CAMEROTA: I like that even if you're in your 20s you're still younger. So, it's just a phenomenon for everybody. So, I'm forever 37. I just feel -- not only am I forever 37, I've lied about my age so much that I forget how old I am, like I've tricked myself into not knowing.


I used to lie when I was younger that I was older. Now, I always lie that I'm younger. I really don't know how old I am, but I know it's not 37.

JONES: Alex Murdaugh, right?

CAMEROTA: Yeah. And a lot like Alex Murdaugh, thank you.

MCENROE: I'm going to jump in because I can't wait to hear Frank.

CAMEROTA: Okay. So, how old --

MCENROE: So, let me save the best for last.

CAMEROTA: Hold on. How old are you really?

MCENROE: I'm 56.

CAMEROTA: And how old do you think you are?

MCENROE: I still think I just got out of college.

CAMEROTA: Really, you're that young.

MCENROE: Yeah. Just got out of college. That's how I feel because I always want to do something new. My body, of course, that's a former professional tennis player. CAMEROTA: Right.

MCENROE: I'm not quite feeling like I'm 22.

CAMEROTA: But in your head you're 22.

MCENROE: But somewhere deep there in the bowels of my mind I just got out of college.

CAMEROTA: Frank, how old in your head are you?

LUNTZ: In my head, I'm 80.

CAMEROTA: Frank, nobody is older in their head.

LUNTZ: I'm 20. I had a birthday yesterday.

CAMEROTA: You did? Happy birthday.

LUNTZ: Thank you. It was very hard getting out of bed. It was very hard walking to the shower. It was just a pain in the ass.

CAMEROTA: So, you're an old man trapped in a middle age man's body.

LUNTZ: I feel so wrong. I used to be so much younger than I was and then something happened around age 50 and I just flipped to the other side.

CAMEROTA: And now you're older than you really are.

LUNTZ: And it's hard because I want to be responsive. This is really good. So, I can acknowledge one thing. I am more tired now than I've ever been. I don't know what it means to stay up to midnight. I'm lucky if I can make it to 8:00 p.m. I've missed a couple of appointments. I used to have five meals a day, which is why I have to wear this vest to keep it all tucked in.

And it's a struggle now. It generally is a struggle. And I say to people who are depending on me, I'm sorry but in the last few years it has been tough, forgive me.

CAMEROTA: Well, Frank, thank you for saying all of that. Thanks for being honest. And by the way, you're almost up at 11:00 p.m. on east coast time, so you're --

MCENROE: There is hope for you. You can do it.

CAMEROTA: And you're going to stay up even later. We'll be right back.