NYT Editorial Board Member and MSNBC's Brian Williams Can't Do Basic Math

March 6, 2020

MSNBC broadcast a wildly inaccurate tweet Thursday night claiming that Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg's $500 million in election spending could've provided every American with $1 million each.

During a discussion on the former New York City mayor's failed presidential run, New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay told MSNBC's Brian Williams that "somebody tweeted recently that actually with the money he's spent, he could have given every American a million dollars." Williams then displayed the tweet in question from journalist Mekita Rivas.

"Bloomberg spent $500 million on ads, U.S. population, 327 million," Williams said. "He could have given each American $1 million and have had lunch money left over. It's an incredible way of putting it."

"It's an incredible way of putting it," Gay agreed. "It's true. It's disturbing."

It is not true. Very basic math indicates that $500 million could only provide 500 people with $1 million. If Bloomberg's election spending were equally spread across the U.S. population, each person would receive less than $2.

Before the MSNBC segment aired, Rivas's tweet had already been thoroughly mocked. Rivas doubled down and claimed that Bloomberg could easily give every American $1 million before locking her account and adding "I know, I’m bad at math" to its bio.

It would take $327 trillion to provide every American with $1 million, more than three times the entire global gross domestic product. With an estimated net worth of $58.3 billion, Bloomberg could only provide every American with about $178.

Gay later addressed her error on Twitter, self-deprecatingly tweeting "Buying a calculator, brb."