During a segment on “The 11th Hour,” MSNBC host Brian Williams and New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay made a bit of a math oversight when discussing the impact of former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s money in the Democratic presidential primary.
Bloomberg has dropped out of the race, endorsed Joe Biden, and is starting an organization to support whoever the Democratic nominee is against President Donald Trump. To drive home just how much money Bloomberg has already poured into the primary for himself, Gay and Williams referenced a tweet.
“Bloomberg spent $500 million on ads,” the tweet from Mekita Rivas reads. “The U.S. 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.”
There is some truth in that tweet. The U.S. population is around 327 million. For most Americans, a $1 million check would be life-changing. And Bloomberg did waste hundreds of millions of dollars on ads for a failure of a campaign.
The math is just a little bit off, however. Bloomberg is super rich, but his outrageous ad spending could only have given each American about $1.53. Not exactly life changing, for most.
But not only did the tweet’s author not catch the math error, neither did Williams, Gay, or any number of producers or network staffers who saw the tweet and made the graphic before putting it on air. Both Williams and Gay marveled at the inaccurate illustration of Bloomberg’s spending.
“It’s an incredible way of putting it,” Williams said.
“It’s an incredible way of putting it,” Gay agreed. “It’s true. It’s disturbing.”
Gay later acknowledged the mistake on Twitter.
“Buying a calculator, brb,” she wrote.
MSNBC issued a correction later in the show and removed it from later editions of the program.