November 19, 2019

Former Obama administration officials assembled quickly Tuesday to debunk a statement from White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham accusing them of leaving behind not-so-friendly notes during the presidential transition in 2017.

Grisham said Obama aides left notes taunting their successor that read "you will fail" and "you aren't going to make it." But several Obama aides scoffed at the notion, pointing out that there's very little chance the Trump administration would have waited almost three years to complain about something like that.

ABC News' chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl even posted some pictures of offices on the day of transition, which don't appear to depict anything of the sort.

Some Obama officials, meanwhile, acknowledged that Grisham wasn't completely making things up — they did indeed leave some things behind, they said, but for a very different purpose.

After the Obama officials criticized Grisham's claim, she backtracked a little bit, admitting she wasn't "sure where their offices were, and certainly wasn't implying every office had that issue." Tim O'Donnell

September 29, 2019

President Trump's first homeland security adviser said on Sunday that he told Trump on multiple occasions that a conspiracy theory about Ukraine meddling in the 2016 election was "completely debunked."

While appearing on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Thomas Bossert said he was "deeply frustrated" that Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others outside the administration were "repeating that debunked theory to the president. It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again, and for clarity here ... let me just repeat that it has no validity."

During a July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump not only asked Zelensky to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, but to also look into the conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that was responsible for the Democratic National Committee hacking. Bossert said he was "deeply disturbed" by the conversation, and several former Trump aides told The New York Times it didn't matter how many times Trump was told that this theory was debunked, he wouldn't listen.

Multiple aides said Trump was more open to listening to Giuliani and other outsiders rather than his national security team, with one telling the Times that Giuliani would "feed Trump all kinds of garbage," which created a "real problem for all of us." Read more at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

September 16, 2019

There's another story to be told about the false association of violent video games and real-life violence.

Even as study after study has shown that video games don't significantly lead to real shootings, media outlets have continued to mention them in reports of crime and violence. Now, a study by the American Psychological Association published Monday shows that this false narrative is largely tied up in racial stereotypes, MIT Technology Review reports.

For one part of the study, students — who were 88 percent white and 65 percent female — read a made-up story about an either black or white 18-year-old school shooter who was apparently a "video game enthusiast," the study reads. Participants were then asked if they thought video games played a role in the crime. A "small but statistically significant" number more of them said the games contributed to the white suspect's motive but not the black suspect's motive, MIT Technology Review reports.

In the second part of the study, researchers used a database to compare local news coverage of shootings. Coverage of suspects' motives was markedly different based on the shooter's race, and video games were eight times more likely to be mentioned in stories about a white suspect over those about a black suspect, the study found.

Together, the two pieces of the study suggest "there are a lot of us out there who think we don’t have a racist cell in our body, but we are comfortable looking at certain explanations [for violence and crime] over others," one researcher on the study told MIT Technology Review. Read more about the study at MIT Technology Review, or find the whole thing here. Kathryn Krawczyk

See More Speed Reads