If I’ve learned anything in my tenure as America’s least influential blogger, I’ve learned that our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters in the press deserve our respect. Better yet, we owe them our awe. It’s amazing how brave and smart and fearless and brave and thoughtful and also brave they are, the men and women of our typing forces. I know I just mentioned how smart they are, but I’m mentioning it again because it’s important. Journalists are very, very, very smart. Much smarter than the rest of us. If they were dumb, they wouldn’t be working for places like MSNBC and the New York Times, would they?
But everybody makes mistakes. Here are MSNBC’s Brian Williams and the NYT’s Mara Gay making a bit of an oopsie while discussing Michael Bloomberg’s mercifully brief but mind-bogglingly expensive presidential campaign:
This is the stupidest thing that has ever aired on television. Congratulations to all involved. pic.twitter.com/vARi9yQ0Bv
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 6, 2020
Here’s the tweet Williams put up on the screen on live national TV:
Some Twitter rando: “Bloomberg spent $500 million on his campaign, when he could’ve given every single American $1 million instead.”
Brian Williams: “I mean, when you look at it like that…”
If you don’t mind, I’m going to double-check this. Just some quick back-of-the-envelope math: Okay, there are about 327 million Americans. If Michael Bloomberg gave every single one of us $1 million, that would be $327 trillion. Trillion, with a “tr.” If you added up literally all the money in existence, it would be about $80 trillion. So Bloomberg would be spending four times as much as all the money in the world. Presumably, this scheme involves parallel realities or time travel or something like that.
Now, if Bloomberg gave each American one dollar, then he’d spend $327 million. That would be less than he spent on his presidential campaign. That’s probably what the NYT’s Mara Gay and MSNBC’s Brian Williams meant. Not a million dollars each, but one dollar each. I realize it’s a nitpicky point.
Everybody assumed that Brian Williams was lying about his helicopter getting shot down over Iraq, but now I wonder if it’s possible he’s just too dumb to understand that a story he heard once didn’t really happen to him. In order to be a liar, you need to be smart enough to recognize the truth. Maybe Williams really is just a haircut and a larynx.
And nobody else in the MSNBC offices stopped this from happening. A whole studio full of college graduates, and nobody even blinked at this before it went on the air. Maybe they’re all in mourning over Elizabeth Warren, and/or still in shock from Chris Matthews walking off his own show.
I can’t wait for the journos to lecture me some more about math and science. I’ll offer them a million bucks to leave me alone, and then throw ’em a dollar. Close enough for journalism, right?