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First Came the Math Error, Then the Racist Trolls

Mara Gay of the 'New York Times' tells them she's not going anywhere
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2020 7:35 AM CDT
Updated Mar 15, 2020 7:11 AM CDT

(Newser) – Mara Gay, a black member of the New York Times editorial board, had the misfortune to make a mistake about math with Brian Williams while appearing on his MSNBC show last Thursday. They were talking about Michael Bloomberg's outlay of $500 million for campaign ads, and Gay said, "Somebody tweeted recently that actually with the money he spent, he could have given every American a million dollars." That was way off, and both started taking immediate flak for not catching the error. Later, Gay even poked some self-deprecating fun at herself about it: "Buying a calculator, brb" she tweeted Friday. In a Wednesday New York Times op-ed, Gay writes, "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."

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The racist Twitter mob pounced on her after the show, she explained. "Get a job scrubbing floors," said one email, calling her out as an example of the need to end Affirmative Action. "It's the only thing you're good for." And on and on like that. Writes Gay: "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 nigger.'" The vitriol had Gay empathizing with other victims of these modern trolls, but it also had her remembering the black voters she had just been interviewing in the South. "Many of those Americans had survived far worse under the racial terror of Jim Crow than anything I can imagine," she writes. "I am here because of them. And there is nothing the haters can do about it." (Read her full column.)

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