ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said Ron DeSantis has “lost his damn mind” after the Florida governor signed legislation to ban diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) programs at Florida universities.
Smith admitted he was not an “aficionado on this subject” but still took aim at the Florida governor.
The ESPN host began his rant with an insult that turned into somewhat of a backhanded compliment.
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TV personality Stephen A. Smith speaks on Radio Row ahead of Super Bowl LVII at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix on Feb. 9, 2023. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
“And in the case of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — at this pace, he might go down as one of the stupidest people I’ve ever seen,” Smith said earlier this week on his podcast. “And we know he’s not stupid. We know how smart he is.
“If you’re DeSantis, it’s bad enough you’ve alienated the Latino community. It’s bad enough you’ve alienated tens of millions of women because, I assure you, even though you have an abundance of women against abortion, most would like the right to make the choice for themselves as opposed to having male politicians dictate those choices for them. Now, we get to this latest stuff, and this is where it hits home for me, ’cause I’m a Black man, and we’re talking about the NAACP.
“Respectfully to the governor, Ron DeSantis, who obviously has offended Latinos, Blacks, women — have you lost your mind or do you just want to throw away the election? Is that what you’re trying to do?”
Smith attends SiriusXM at Super Bowl LVII in Phoenix on Feb. 9, 2023. (Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
DeSantis signed the legislation, SB 266, on the campus of New College of Florida, an institution to which he has made drastic changes this year. SB 266 prevents any public university from using state funding to pay for DEI programs, and it also grants university presidents more authority over hiring practices.
The bill is DeSantis’ latest offensive against what he calls “woke” influences on education. Recent years have also seen him pass legislation that grants parents more authority over their children’s education in elementary, middle and high school.
In addition to the funding ban, DeSantis also signed a bill to ban public universities from requiring students and faculty to provide “diversity statements” to be admitted or hired. Such statements typically are meant to demonstrate how an applicant’s experiences would help make a campus more diverse and inclusive.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference at the American Police Hall of Fame & Museum in Titusville, Florida, on May 1, 2023. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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DeSantis officially announced his bid to become the Republican nominee for the 2024 presidential election earlier this week.
Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.