New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay claimed Thursday that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg could have given every American $1 million.
Gay, who appeared on MSNBC’s “11th Hour” with Brian Williams, cited a tweet that she had seen earlier and said that, instead of spending $500 million on his failed presidential bid, the billionaire could have given each of the 327 million people in America $1 million. (RELATED: MSNBC’s Brian Williams Tries To Discredit Attorney General, Renames Him ‘Baghdad Bill Barr’)
The problem, which neither Gay nor Williams caught initially, is that $500 million is only enough to give $1 million each to 500 people. The total amount necessary to give $1 million each to 327 million people is actually $327 trillion dollars — and Bloomberg’s net worth is estimated to be $58.3 billion.
People were quick to notice the error.
how did this end up on tv? pic.twitter.com/xUYIOChhKv
— andrew kaczynski???? (@KFILE) March 6, 2020
Brian Williams and a member of the NYT Editorial Board thought that the $500 million Bloomberg spent on ads could have been used to give “each American $1 million” instead.
This would be true…if America’s population was 500.
These are the people telling you how to vote. https://t.co/0yoCcdpsUd
— James Hasson (@JamesHasson20) March 6, 2020
This is the stupidest thing that has ever aired on television. Congratulations to all involved. pic.twitter.com/vARi9yQ0Bv
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 6, 2020
MSNBC claims that if Bloomberg’s campaign expenditures were allocated to Americans, we’d get $1 million each.
Or, in reality, about $1.50 each. Enough for, maybe, a child-sized hot cocoa at Starbucks?
Pesky math! 1/3…pic.twitter.com/5oahsbbOee
— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) March 6, 2020
Where’s Andrew Yang when you need him? https://t.co/p359QU6ul3
— The Federalist (@FDRLST) March 6, 2020
Gay appeared to take the backlash in stride, offering a mea culpa of sorts on Twitter. “Buying a calculator, brb,” she tweeted.
Buying a calculator, brb ????
— Mara Gay (@MaraGay) March 6, 2020
The author of the cited tweet, Mekita Rivas, protected her Twitter account — but not before changing her bio to read “I know, I’m bad at math.”
Williams made an on-air correction later in the show, saying, “While I have you both and our audience paying attention, turns out Mara and I got the same grades at math. I’m speaking of the tweet we both misinterpreted. He could give each American $1. Again, I didn’t have it in high school. I don’t have it tonight. I stand corrected. Sorry about that. The tweet is wrong.”
Tonight on the air we quoted a tweet that relied on bad math. We corrected the error after the next commercial break and have removed it from later editions of tonight’s program. We apologize for the error.
— 11th Hour (@11thHour) March 6, 2020