Look, folks, I have white parents. That’s what my mom, a liberal Democrat mind you, would say jokingly as to why I, for lack of a better term, sucked at math. I’m a bad Asian. I don’t like math or science. Well, I like science—I’m fascinated by stuff that explodes—but I never excelled at it. None of the Vespa kids did well in math.
You could never even say that joke or even kid about Asians and math nowadays because the political correctness police would cancel you faster than you can say Gulag Archipelago. But I do know simple stuff like if there was $500 million in a pot distributed equally to 327 million people, the split is not…$1 million per person.
That’s what New York Times editorial member Mara Gay uttered on live television while being interviewed by MSNBC’s Brian Williams last week. Both were mocked and rightfully so. Now, Gay is out with a column saying how her people have been through worse than the Twitter mob or something. Also, you might be racist for noticing this error—typical (via NYT):
On MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour With Brian Williams” … we mentioned a tweet, written by someone else, about the enormous amount of money Michael Bloomberg had spent on his failed presidential run, about $500 million. Here’s what I said: “Somebody tweeted recently that actually with the money he spent, he could have given every American a million dollars.”
The math, as a few people have pointed out, was wrong. Overnight, I had become an online sensation, and not in a good way. The video had gone viral, first shared by the right wing, and then by seemingly everyone else, too
Given my history with math, I thought the flub was pretty funny, too. I tried to laugh it off. “Buying a calculator,” I wrote on Twitter on Friday. “Brb.”
In a normal time, that would have been the end of it. But the country has lost its mind, so instead, it was only the beginning.
Across social media, right wing trolls celebrated. And some journalists did too. Most of them were men who are prolific on Twitter. (Going out and doing actual reporting? That’s harder.) The next time they make a mistake, I hope people are nicer to them than they were to me. “How did this end up on TV?” one of them helpfully wrote, sharing the video.
Unfortunately, quite a few Americans can tell you what it’s like to be the target of a Twitter mob over a gaffe. My great sin was trivial, harmless, silly. What’s it like when people are trying to cancel you for a math mistake? Weird, and maddening and painful.
I am a black woman who writes for The New York Times and appears on national TV. And if you’re black in America, no matter who you are, what you accomplish or how hard you work, there will always be people to remind you that you are black, that you are “just a ni**er.”
A colleague at The Times, an African-American woman, wrote to me on Friday afternoon, “They resent that you exist.”
It didn’t help that I write for a newspaper where my colleagues are assiduously working to hold a rogue president accountable every day.
Look, I can empathize with the 'being bad at math' part. It was actually Andrew Kaczynski who asked how this error got on television, and he works for the very anti-Trump CNN. Also, yeah—no kidding. Of course, a Twitter mob of randos isn’t as bad as living under Jim Crow.
how did this end up on tv? pic.twitter.com/xUYIOChhKv— andrew kaczynski?? (@KFILE) March 6, 2020
Its bad enough to have an entire political movement that believes "the billionayas" can fund socialism because they cannot do basic arithmetic.— Brian Riedl (@Brian_Riedl) March 6, 2020
Now we have MSNBC hosts & NYT editorial board members doing TV segments along these lines.
We Are Doomed. https://t.co/aJldYoOloY
MSNBC’s Brian Williams reads a tweet: "Bloomberg spent $500 million on ads. U.S. Population, 327 million. He could have given each American $1 million"— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) March 6, 2020
NYT Editorial Board Member Mara Gay: “It’s an incredible way of putting it. It’s true. It’s disturbing”
It's $1.53 per person pic.twitter.com/dIiwCESgh8
People equally mocked Brian Williams but of course this is her angle. Of course. pic.twitter.com/Et3HEQm3vS— neontaster (@neontaster) March 11, 2020
See, the thing is, it wasn't a "trivial math error." We aren't talking about a rounding mistake or not carrying the one. Her "error" showed she had a fundamental misunderstanding of wealth, money, or the size of the country. Pick any or all. https://t.co/v3TWADLySz— John Ekdahl (@JohnEkdahl) March 12, 2020
What kind of mob went after Brian Williams? https://t.co/rNc4v1e4qu— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) 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
It wasn't that trivial, Mara.— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) March 11, 2020
Your trivial math mistake undercut whatever point you thought you were making. But you do you.— Ryan (@chasinghumility) March 11, 2020
I’ve had people hurl racist stuff at me and told me to kill myself, but I don’t despair. I love that they hate me. It keeps me going. Granted, it’s probably nowhere near the frequency as some of the stuff Gay receives. You can just not open a hate email that is easily flagged from the subject line alone. You can mute on Twitter. And yes, there are scores of a-holes on the Internet. It’s a fact of life. But as others noted, this isn’t a race thing. Williams got rightfully dragged for this segment as well. You’re an editorial member for one of the most recognized and visible newspapers out there. It’s quite the job. It’s a dream job for many in this business. And in an era of hyper-partisan politics, you can’t honestly think that writing for a liberal newspaper isn’t going to come with days where you’re the recipient of this kind of behavior. It may not be right, but it is what it is.
Second, these liberal media folks hurl the same vitriol on their pages against Trump and his supporters on a daily basis. They refuse to apologize and admit they were wrong in 2016. So, please, spare me their whines about being picked on by Trump or whoever that despise the Democrat-media complex that’s heavily entrenched in this country. Please, spare us the lectures about press freedom and holding Trump accountable. Your coverage on this White Huse has been poor for four years, you've all exposed yourselves to be nothing more than Democratic operatives, and when the president bashes you--it isn't a slide toward authoritarianism. You know what is, Bernie Sanders, becoming the Democratic nominee, which blessedly looks like it won't happen.
These clowns cater to a snobby and condescending readership who love to wallow in their insufferable self-righteousness about believing in science when it comes to global warming but peddle tinfoil hat conspiracy theory nonsense about vaccines based on a debunked and outright trash study by Andrew Wakefield. They’re the philosopher-kings but can’t get basic math right. And that’s the point some made on Twitter that wasn’t vicious. It undercut the whole liberal argument for why they should be in charge of...anything.
I’m sorry Gay got some nasty tweets and emails. I do, but I’m not going to cry over some New York Times op-ed writer getting flak. She’s the person in a position of privilege being at the Times proper and good for her. I couldn’t care less about her race. She made a dumb remark. Maybe it got blown up more than it should, but this is the age we live in. Most in the liberal media are weak, triggered by when Trump and the rest of us mock them for their moronic hot takes about the news of the day. Gay doesn’t seem like she’s going to collapse because some people said some mean things about her. If anything, she appears energized by the reactions. And so, continues this thing of ours. This isn’t about race. It’s about the overall ethos of the liberal media and how it sucks. Period. Enough about Jim Crow. He's dead.
Sidebar: Conservative women who are prolific on social media also get abysmal things hurled at them by progressive trolls as well, but no one really reports on it. I wonder why?