Skimm'd on debate night

theSkimm50 West 23rd Street, Suite 5B; New York, NY, 10010, United States Update Profile

FEBRUARY 19, 2020



Skimm'd on debate night


"Biting into string cheese is fine, actually" – A headline implying maybe your college roommate wasn't a monster, after all.


The Story

Five months after Afghanistan's presidential election, we have a winner.

Drum roll please…

It's incumbent President Ashraf Ghani. Back in September, Afghans hit the polls with two front-runners: Ghani and the country's CEO (yes, that's actually his job) Abdullah Abdullah. But there was a record low turnout, in part blamed on the Taliban threatening attacks on election day. The results were then delayed for months because of misconduct and fraud allegations, as well as technical issues. But there's a plot twist.

Go on...

The country's independent election commission says Ghani won with a little more than 50% of the votes. But Abdullah, who got almost 40% of the votes, also claimed victory. It's not the first time Abdullah's challenged the results. In 2014, both candidates claimed victory and the US had to help them reach a power-sharing deal. Now, Abdullah's calling the results "illegal," and says he'll form his own "inclusive government." It's unclear what he means by that.


The election news comes at a crucial time: the US and Taliban could soon sign a peace deal, paving the way for peace talks involving the Afghan gov. But the Taliban reportedly called this election a "fraud," and yesterday's results don't bring the sides any closer to ending America's longest war.


What people are watching…

China. The country is expelling three reporters from The Wall Street Journal. Earlier this month, the outlet published a coronavirus-related opinion piece with a headline that China called racist. In response, it's now revoking three reporters' press credentials – though it seems none of them contributed to the opinion piece. And it's calling on the Journal to apologize and "hold the persons involved accountable."

  • Taking it up a notch: China has long tried to silence critics at home. But this is seen as an escalation to do that abroad, as it's rare for China to expel a foreign correspondent.

Who handed in their orange jumpsuit...

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D). Yesterday, President Trump used his pardoning power to commute Blagojevich's prison sentence. A little background: Blagojevich was convicted on corruption charges, including for an attempt to literally sell off former President Obama's open US Senate seat in 2008 (Blagojevich got dibs on appointing Obama's successor). He was one of 11 people who were granted clemency yesterday. And it's worth noting: Blagojevich had a stint on Trump's reality TV show "Celebrity Apprentice."

What's kicking it to the man…

Kickstarter. Yesterday, it announced that its employees voted to unionize, making Kickstarter the first major tech company to do so. Their employees will be affiliated with the Office and Professional Employees International Union, which reps more than 100,000 workers. Despite pushback from leadership last year, the company's CEO now says it respects their decision and is "proud of the fair and democratic process" that led them here.

Skimm More: Our guide explains the history of labor unions and the decline in membership in recent years.

What's putting the "comms" in "comedy"...

"Nerd prom."


Comedy, drama, and reality...oh my. There's a lot to watch. Which makes it hard to decide what to watch. Got you. We partnered with Hulu to bring you our recs over the next few weeks. Next up….

"Vanderpump Rules" (Bravo)

"It's…not about the pasta." It's about the staff members who run Los Angeles restaurants owned by a certain housewife. (Don't worry, some do serve pasta.)

Plus...basically everyone is involved with everyone. Yeah, messy.

Watch with...a Pump-tini. One of the signature cocktails at Pump in West Hollywood.

Know that...the eighth season premiered in January. But you can catch up on the first seven seasons now. Because Hulu Has Reality TV. Like, a lot of reality TV. Start your free trial at

Skimm 2020

Debaters gon' debate. Tonight's the ninth Democratic presidential primary debate, going down in Las Vegas. 9pm ET, MSNBC. Here's who you can expect to see on your screen...

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)...the perceived front-runner after strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire. He's also been killing it in the national polls, which could spell key delegate wins in future states.

Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg...the moderate front-runner who's been neck-and-neck with Sanders. Now that he's proved himself in Iowa and NH, he's got to show he can keep up momentum on a national level.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)...the one who came in third in NH and is saying 'not so fast' to the idea of Buttigieg owning the moderate vote.

Former VP Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)...the ones who once seemed like strong contenders. They're struggling to regain their footing after disappointing finishes in the first two states.

Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg...the new guy. This is the first Democratic debate this season that doesn't require a threshold for individual donations. Good news for Bloomberg, a billionaire who's been self-funding his campaign.

Remember, what happens in Vegas...could carry over into this weekend's Nevada caucuses. So let's see if anyone gets lucky tonight and makes an impression on voters.


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Round of ap-paws for...Ciara F (GA). She's close to completing her bachelor's degree in Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney.

Download Duolingo for...Maddy E (TX). She passed the exams to become a bilingual educator in Texas.

(Some) Birthdays...theSkimm's Michael Gray (NY), Allison Barber (VA), Rachel Novosad (CA), Beena Kavalam (NJ), Dennis Coletta (NY), Cat Couture (WA), Mary DeRoo (MA), Courtney Kiolbassa (TX), Danielle Combs (MA), Danielle Mannion (IL), Gena Prickette (TX), Linnea Crowther (IL), Lander Burns (TN) Suzy Feakes (MO), Arline Stein (FL)

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