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‘Bad math’: Question over Michael Bloomberg’s campaign spending stumps two journalists live on air

A simple mathematical question surrounding Michael Bloomberg's campaign spending landed two United States journalists in a painfully embarrassing situation as they were left scratching their heads. 

By: Trends Desk | New Delhi | Updated: March 7, 2020 3:56:34 pm
tv bloopers, funny tv gaffes, msnbc Bloomberg 1 million dollar tweet, msnbc math error, mike bloomberg, micharl bloomberg 500 million dollar campaign, mike bloomberg us presidential race, odd news, viral news, indian express MSNBC anchor Brian Williams and NYT journalist Mara Gay failed to realise the mistake of the tweet on air initially.

If $500 million is spent on 327 million citizens, would each get $1 million or a little more than $1?

This rather simple mathematical question landed two United States journalists in a painfully embarrassing situation as they were left scratching their heads.

Brian Williams and Mara Gay made a gaffe while discussing a tweet on the whopping $500 million spent by US presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg on his election campaign live on air.

“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,” writer Mekita Rivas had tweeted on Super Tuesday. (Rivas has since made her Twitter account private.)

This was the tweet that prompted the two US journalists to talk about Michael Bloomberg’s whopping spending on the campaign.

While discussing Rivas’ social media post, Williams and Gay agreed with the tweet which claimed each citizen would get $1 million. But in reality, the actual amount would be around a paltry $1.50 each.

It’s true that Bloomberg spent $500 million on political advertisements before dropping out of the presidential race, and it is equally true that according to the latest census, the US has a population of approximately 327 million people.

The mistake was soon rectified by the journalists and the media house, but it was too late. The clip had by then already gone viral, leaving netizens laughing out loud. It had over 10 million views at the time of writing this.

Williams, an MSNBC anchor, later said, “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 a dollar. The tweet is wrong.”

The network, too, issued an apology on Twitter regretting the error.

Gay, a member of the New York Times editorial board, also tweeted about the gaffe, saying she was “buying a calculator, brb.”

Most people were baffled by the ‘math problem’ and some wondered how it even aired. Some school teachers said even those in the fourth grade would have gotten the calculation correct.

There were few who came to their defence, saying they too struggled to understand what went wrong. “You can laugh at them but they’re right; Mike Bloomberg should give everyone a million dollars,” one user said, while another joked that they would still like their $1.5 from Bloomberg.

The person behind the original tweet made her account private following the gaffe and updated her Twitter bio to read, “I know, I’m bad at math.”

Michael Bloomberg, 78, dropped out of the 2020 presidential race on Wednesday and said he would back fellow moderate Joe Biden in his bid to win the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in November’s election.

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