New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay and MSNBC anchor Brian Williams were mocked Friday for a not-so-great demonstration of their math skills on the air Thursday night when neither realized that $500 million divided among 327 million people would not give each person $1 million.
Of course, they got ridiculed online, but not just by amused viewers. Some media and television veterans, like former Fox Newser and current Sinclair host Eric Bolling, pointed out that MSNBC’s producers were also at fault for creating a whole full-screen graphic of an unverified assessment from a third party and letting Williams and Gay discuss it without ever checking the math.
Yahoo Finance editor-at-large Daniel Roberts mused that “the craziest part of this insane clip is when Brian Williams says ‘don’t tell us if you’re ahead of us on the math; and you think he’s about to realize on air that it’s wrong– and he doesn’t.”
Fox News’ Mark Levin kept it simple, calling the MSNBC anchor “dumber than ever.”
On air, Williams corrected the mistake the segment after making it: “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.”
“Buying a calculator, brb,” tweeted Gay herself Friday.
During her discussion with Williams on former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s short-but-expensive presidential run, the duo examined a now-hidden tweet that pointed out Bloomberg spent about $500 million of his own money. So far, so good, sure, but then the tweet suggested that Bloomberg could have given each of the 327 million Americans $1 million and still had money left over, which would have been a better use of the cash.
Instead of pointing out that actually, each of the 327 million Americans would have gotten less than $2, Williams called that “an incredible way of putting it.”
Gay, for her part, agreed: “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.”