Last week, New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay made a fool of herself on Brian Williams’ MSNBC show when she breathlessly fawned over a tweet that nailed Michael Bloomberg for spending half a billion dollars on campaign ads instead of giving every American $1 million.
how did this end up on tv? pic.twitter.com/xUYIOChhKv
— andrew kaczynski? (@KFILE) March 6, 2020
Gay took a lot of heat for that shockingly bad math, but it seemed like most of the heat consisted of jokes about her intelligence (or lack thereof). That’s not nearly as glamorous as making herself into some kind of martyr in the war on racism, though:
A racist Twitter mob came for me over a trivial math mistake. I'm not going anywhere. https://t.co/McxAT8P7OI
— Mara Gay (@MaraGay) March 11, 2020
Gay’s piece includes four examples of racist comments she received following her MSNBC appearance. She makes it sound as though those kinds of comments, rather than comments pointing out that she just plain sucks at math, made up the bulk of the responses to her “trivial math mistake.” We find that … hard to believe.
But Gay’s found a narrative she likes, one that takes her off the hook for her embarrassing mistake, so she’s gonna lean into it:
I write a lot about the underdog, which tends to make some people feel threatened, or simply uncomfortable. When I appeared on that TV show last week, I had been working for many days interviewing black voters in the South who were determined to defeat Donald Trump, whom they see as the nightmare embodiment of the old hatreds many of them fought to overcome.
Many of those Americans had survived far worse under the racial terror of Jim Crow than anything I can imagine. I thought about the black man I met at the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., who had been beaten bloody by the police there half a century ago. I thought about the older black woman who approached me in a Selma coffee shop to tell me she was proud of me. I thought about my father, who grew up enduring the daily indignities of segregated South Carolina and Detroit.
I am here because of them. And there is nothing the haters can do about it.
Wow. She’s basically the Rosa Parks of mathematical ineptitude.
did dril write this headline? pic.twitter.com/R5qkMRi779
— ?'? ? ??????? ???? (@BecketAdams) March 11, 2020
Hmmm. Nope. https://t.co/lXaIF7M9mh
— Luke Thompson (@ltthompso) March 11, 2020
It wasn't that trivial, Mara.
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) March 11, 2020
The people who assure us Medicare for all, free college, cancelling student debt, etc. can all be paid for by billionaires think being off by a factor of 1M is trivial. https://t.co/RqnTXW9nDK
— BT (@back_ttys) March 11, 2020
But it wasn’t a trivial error. The difference between a million and a $1.53 was the entire premise.
— Ahsan Kabir (@aephemera) March 11, 2020
It's not racist and also not trivial when the math mistake was fundamental to the point you tried to make https://t.co/UR6G4zroaZ
— Ben McDonald (@Bmac0507) March 11, 2020
Your trivial math mistake undercut whatever point you thought you were making. But you do you.
— Ryan (@chasinghumility) March 11, 2020
Math is racist and facts that formed the foundation of an entire broadcast news segment are "trivial." https://t.co/bxPQvjZmLJ
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) March 11, 2020
Are you under the impression that Brian Williams wasn't also widely ridiculed?
— Matt Palumbo (@MattPalumbo12) March 11, 2020
RACIST???? It's RACIST to point out your math mistake? Are you kidding me? Woe is me b/c ppl pointed out your math mistake? Do you cry when someone spills your drink? https://t.co/o4IbmONhDJ
— Mary #FlyTheW (@mchastain81) March 11, 2020
Nobody should be subject to racism, but you definitely deserve ridicule for your incompetent level of arithmetic and failure of basic editorial standards.
— natander (@natander) March 11, 2020
"A racist Twitter mob came for me after I wrote about a racist Twitter mob. I will not be silenced."
– Mara Gay next week.
— Holden (@Holden114) March 11, 2020
Editor’s note: This post has been updated with additional tweets.