Guardian US kicks off membership program with debate watch party

At Tumblr’s HQ in New York City on Wednesday, roughly 300 people gathered to watch Trump and Clinton face off for the last time and discuss afterwards

What was one of the most telling moments from the third and final presidential debate? When Donald Trump said Hillary Clinton was “such a nasty woman”, Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti said in a panel on Wednesday night. “Women recognized his tone in that sentence and what he really wanted to say.”

At Tumblr’s HQ in New York, the roughly 300 people who had gathered to watch Trump and Clinton face off for the last time at a debate watch party co-hosted by Guardian US and WNYC, seemed to agree, with many shouting “No” and booing in response to Trump’s comment.

After the debate, the crowd stuck around to watch Valenti, the Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman and panelists from CNN and WNYC dissect the night’s events in terms of gender, race and foreign policy.

Tanzania Vega, CNN’s national reporter on race and inequality, Jessica Valenti, staff writer for The Guardian US and Spencer Ackerman, US national security editor for the Guardian.
Tanzina Vega, CNN’s national reporter on race and inequality, Jessica Valenti, staff writer for the Guardian US and Spencer Ackerman, US national security editor for the Guardian. Photograph: Alex Welsh/The Guardian

Ackerman and Valenti were joined by Tanzina Vega, a national reporter on race and inequality at CNN, and Kai Wright, host of WNYC’s United States of Anxiety podcast and an editor at the Nation, on the panel.

The event marked the kick-off of the Guardian’s membership program in the US. In an effort to find new ways to monetize its global audience of more than 150 million people, the Guardian is inviting readers to join the larger Guardian community by supporting the publication financially. The Guardian holds a unique position in the journalism landscape because it is owned by the Scott Trust, which ensures that editorial interests remain free of commercial and political influence.

In the US, supporters pay $4.99 a month, or $49 a year for a membership. Readers also have the option of making a one-off contribution to the publication. Members receive regular communications from Guardian journalists and access to special events. Since its US launch in 2011, the Guardian has built an American audience of 45 million unique visitors a month, and won a Pulitzer prize for coverage of Edward Snowden and NSA hacking.

The third debate covered a lot of ground, Wright said, though he and the panelists each highlighted points they thought the debate had missed over their 20-minute discussion. For him, criminal justice reform was absent.

Guests watch the third and final presidential debate at the Debate Pop-Up Party at the Tumblr office in Manhattan.
Guests watch the third and final presidential debate at the Debate Pop-Up Party at the Tumblr office in Manhattan. Photograph: Alex Welsh/The Guardian

Valenti praised the way Clinton spoke about late-term abortion. “The way that she did it was absolutely incredible,” Valenti said of Clinton’s abortion remarks. “This is an issue most politicians stay away from.” However, Valenti thought many discussions of domestic violence, violence against the LGBT community or “violence against women not perpetrated by Donald Trump” were missing from the discussion.

Ackerman, Guardian US’s national security editor, was pleased to hear the moderator’s question on what a no-fly zone over Syria would mean for relations between the US and Russia. But he was left with one other big question: “Whatever happened to Trump’s plan on Isis?”

membership interactive

For Vega, important issues surrounding race were missing. The candidates turned the discussion of race towards guns or “inner cities” as opposed to addressing issues like voter disenfranchisement, voter intimidation or economics, she said. “I’m very surprised in all three debates the words ‘black lives matter’ have not come up,” Vega added. “No one has mentioned that or alt-right.”

The crowd that watched the debate alongside the panelists clearly favored Clinton over Trump. Two friends and native Tennesseans, Katherine and Catherine, proudly sported Clinton campaign T-shirts at the event, happy to be away from their conservative Republican families. “They would disown us if they knew we supported her,” Katherine said. In their chatter ahead of the debate, more than one attendee sarcastically asked if there were any Trump supporters in the room.

“I got the sense from the room that it’s generally, slightly pro-Hillary,” joked Nicholas Thompson, the panel’s moderator and the editor of, before asking what Clinton might have done better during the debate. He thought she stumbled on trade, while Wright thought she stumbled on guns.

Clinton’s one-liners saying Trump “choked” or about the Emmys were chosen by the panelists as the most memorable lines. The ultimate favorite, though, was the Democratic nominee’s jab about the situation room.

“And on the day when I was in the Situation Room, monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was hosting the Celebrity Apprentice,” Clinton said. The Guardian is an independent voice in this year’s election. That means no bias or corporate owner influencing our coverage. But in-depth political reporting takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. If everyone who reads our coverage helps to pay for it, our future will be more secure. Support the Guardian with a monthly payment, or a one-off contribution.


Nicole Puglise in New York

The GuardianTramp

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