While discussing the spending by Bloomberg during his short-lived attempt at securing the Democratic nomination, “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” host referenced an impassioned tweet authored by journalist Mekita Rivas which said:
“Bloomberg spent $500 million on ads. The US population is 327 million. He could have given each American $1 million and still have money left over. I feel like a $1 million check would be life-changing for most people. Yet he wasted it all on ads and STILL LOST.”
This is the brainpower of #MSNBC#BrianWilliams & @MaraGay agree the $500m Bloomberg spent was— Jim Hanson (@JimHansonDC) March 6, 2020
"enough to give each American a $1M check"
This wasn't just a slip
It passed muster w/ producers & they even made a graphic#DamUDum pic.twitter.com/bPPMNmDFQn
“When I read it tonight on social media, it kind of all became clear,” Williams said before narrating the tweet.
“It’s an incredible way of putting it,” the MSNBC host said - to which Gay replied in agreement that “it’s an incredible way of putting it. It’s true; it’s disturbing; it does suggest what we’re talking about here, which is there’s too much money in politics.”
While many would agree that “there’s too much money in politics,” the math behind the example clearly doesn’t add up, considering the fact that there are more than 500 people in the US. While the host made an apology after returning from a commercial break, the internet caught hold of the footage and, well, the rest went as expected.
Brian Williams just shared this on screen like it was accurate, and did it with enough confidence he had me pulling out a calculator and thinking *I* was tripping. pic.twitter.com/YtUfV0LuqX— Jay Smooth (@jsmooth995) March 6, 2020
Serious question: how does something like that happen when so many people have to view the graphic beforehand? As a viewer it seems like everyone was more concerned about the narrative than the actual facts— Matt (@GeraltOfPhilly) March 6, 2020
It wasn't just Brian Williams and Mara Gay. There's a director, there's a producer, there's a graphics person... Either all of them are dopes or Brian Williams' staff really hates him.— neontaster (@neontaster) March 6, 2020
This is just unacceptable for a major cable show:— 🇺🇸 ERIC BOLLING 🇺🇸 (@ericbolling) March 6, 2020
I’m not sure what’s worse...
The @nytimes reporter flubbing the math, Brian Williams face planting the math or @MSNBC producers not doing basic fact checking before creating that full screen for tv? https://t.co/m6NadeAzR0
Mara Gay of the New York Times and Brian Williams of MSNBC claimed tonight that Mike Bloomberg could have given every American one million dollars and still had money left over afterwards. I didn't realize Mike Bloomberg had $327 trillion dollars 😂— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) March 6, 2020
Shortly following the program, the “11th Hour” official Twitter account issued an apology for quoting “a tweet that relied on bad math.”
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
Gay appeared to own up to her poor math skills in a Friday morning tweet.
Buying a calculator, brb 🙈— Mara Gay (@MaraGay) March 6, 2020
Even Rivas has protected their tweets as a result of the incident. “I know, I’m bad at math,” they noted in their updated bio.
To be fair, Bloomberg would have been able to cut each American a check from the amount of cash he poured into his campaign ads. Those checks would only be for around $1.53 apiece, though.