On June 29 2021, a Bongino Report clip (“Biden Energy Sec. Suggests Climate Change Could Have Caused Florida Building Collapse”) was shared to video hosting site Rumble.com, covering the devastating June 24 2021 collapse of a building in Miami.
That same day, far right blogger and would-be pundit Dan Bongino tweeted a link to the video, claiming that there was “nothing Democrats won’t blame on climate change,” in an apparent attempt to make even addressing the topic of a changing climate — which can be easily observed by anyone on the planet — seem ridiculous:
There is nothing Democrats won't blame on climate change.https://t.co/tlDyE0Fln4
— Bongino Report (@BonginoReport) June 29, 2021
Bongino’s Rumble.com link was in a format where the sole content was a short subheading (“You literally cannot make this up”) and partial clip. The link’s appearance on Trendolizer.com on June 30 2021 suggested it was popular on social media platforms.
However, the brief video was hidden behind a video advertisement from which viewers could not toggle away. That setup was optimized to encourage users to share the clip on social media, but discouraged actually viewing the video and examining whether the headline was accurate.
Fox News shared a more complete version of the clip in their June 29 2021 article, “Energy Sec. Granholm on Miami condo collapse: ‘We don’t know’ if climate change was cause,” but that outlet reported:
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm implied that climate change could have been a cause of the tragic residential building collapse in Surfside, Fla., [on June 24 2021].
Granholm was asked if climate change could have played a role in the building’s collapse during a CNN interview on Tuesday [June 29 2021].
Bongino (alongside a statement “you literally can’t make this up”) made a titular claim that Biden’s Energy Secretary Granholm “suggest[ed] climate change could have caused” the building collapse in Florida. According to Fox News, Granholm “was asked” if climate change was a contributing factor — pointing to a broader conversation and misleading clip.
CNN provided transcripts of its programs, including one for CNN’s New Day on June 29 2021. The exchange between Granholm and anchor Erica Hill was transcribed in its entirety, and the clip embedded by Fox News via CNN was an additional five minutes longer than Bongino’s version:
Biden “wants both bills, as he said, and he’s going to campaign for both bills… He wanted to make sure he wasn't issuing a veto threat,” says Energy Sec. Jennifer Granholm, assuring that the infrastructure bill touted by Biden isn’t tied to a second bill.https://t.co/tv40ze3jM7 pic.twitter.com/iot2WK99a4
— New Day (@NewDay) June 29, 2021
CNN’s New Day transcript was long, and the very start of the exchange between Granholm and Hill had to do not with the tragedy in Miami on June 24 2021, but Biden’s infrastructure bill:
HILL: Joining me now is energy secretary and a member of President Biden’s jobs cabinet, Jennifer Granholm. Secretary, good to see you with us this morning.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, ENERGY SECRETARY: Great to be here.
HILL: So, to that point, is the infrastructure tied to a second bill, yes or no?
GRANHOLM: No, he wants both bills, as he said, and he’s going to campaign for both bills, but he did not issue or he wanted to make clear he wasn’t issuing a veto threat. What he really wants is for people to understand how incredibly historic this bipartisan infrastructure framework is. It is going to be the biggest investment in rail since the start of Amtrak.
It’s the biggest investment in repairing roads and bridges, we have got 46,000 bridges that are in bad condition, the biggest infrastructure investment in transmission grid, which ass secretary of energy, I’m really interested in making sure we have, the biggest investment in water, in making sure that kids in schools don’t have lead pipes. This is Democrats and Republicans all agree, and that’s really the president’s traveling to Wisconsin today, a number of us are out on the road because we want to make sure that everybody understands what’s in this bill because it’s so great for America.
HILL: There is, though — I mean, the mixed messaging was a bit of a setback over the weekend. Do you think it was a blunder on the part of the president?
GRANHOLM: Well, the president cleared up what he meant on [June 26 2021], and as you heard on [June 27 2021], a number of the Republicans who were in as part of that deal felt like that was sufficient to be able to calm the waters, I think, as Senator Romney said.
HILL: What you just heard though from Mitch McConnell, are you concerned at all that this was sort of a gift in some ways to the GOP?
GRANHOLM: Well, what’s a gift is a gift to the American people that we have a bipartisan framework. It’s a gift to the nation that we send a message across the world that actually, you know what, democracy works, we can get things done.
So, you know, the president really does not want this to be bogged down in process and in partisanship. What he wants to do is deliver with his allies on the right and the left something for the American people. I hope that’s the message that — whether it’s Mitch McConnell or anybody else takes away is this is about the people. It’s not about this political process.
Granholm and Hill discussed details of the infrastructure bill at length, addressing the negotiations process, touching on “clean energy,” and discussing partisan debate over spending at length.
Granholm said the “first bill has been negotiated,” describing it as a “first step.” Hill then turned the interview toward climate change on a whole, leading to the following exchange:
HILL: To your point there, I know there’s more that you would have liked to have seen in the bill when it comes to climate, the president in an op-ed on [June 28 2021] saying that he would have liked more in there, that there wasn’t quite as much as he would have liked.
HILL: How concerning — I mean, concerning is that for you moving forward, because it’s a lot that you’re going to try to put in potentially a second bill?
GRANHOLM: Yes. There is no doubt that we need the investment for our nation in getting to 100 percent clean electricity. I mean, we’re here in New York, and it’s going to be 97 degrees today, and I know you don’t always equate weather with climate change necessarily. But what’s happening on the west coast, I mean, these cascading, record- breaking weather events are only going to accelerate.
So, the point is we’ve got to do our part in our country to get on clean energy so that we don’t continue to exacerbate climate change. It is an existential issue. So, yes, that has to be addressed, and, yes, that will be addressed in the second piece. But I’m confident that the Democrats are very determined to get both pieces through and at least the Republicans that we negotiated with on the infrastructure side are determined to get the first part through, so let’s do this.
At that point, Hill (not Granholm) speculated that climate change and “so-called extraordinary tides” played a role in the June 24 2021 Miami building collapse:
HILL: In terms of climate, you brought up what’s happening, what we’re seeing in the Pacific Northwest. We have been talking a lot about what happened in Florida at the Surfside condominium building that collapsed. We don’t know exactly what happened at this point. But given what we know about the changing climate, given that we have seen an increase in the so-called extraordinary tides and the impact that that can have in areas like South Florida, do you think that climate could have played a role in that building’s collapse?
Granholm answered Hill’s question, and the segment concluded with her answer. In the transcript, it was quite clear Hill (not Granholm) posed the specific question about the Miami building collapse, and Granholm’s response — which was accurate — was about larger climate issues:
GRANHOLM: Well, obviously, we don’t know fully, but we do know that the seas are rising. I mean, we know that we’re losing inches and inches of beaches, not just in Florida but all around. You know, Lake Michigan, where I’m from, you know, we’ve seen the loss of beaches because the waters are rising.
So, you know, this is a phenomenon that will continue, we’ll have to wait to see what the analysis is for this building. But the issue about resiliency and making sure we adapt to this changing climate, that’s going to mean levees need to be built, that means sea walls need to be built, that means infrastructure needs to be built.
We need to make sure that we invest enough in clearing out the forest so we don’t have these weather events. We need to invest in hardening transmission lines, maybe burying wires so that we can protect areas that are like tinderbox dry. There’s so much investment that we need to do to protect ourselves from climate change, but also address it and mitigate it. And, hopefully, these infrastructure bills, when taken together, will take a huge step and allow America to lead again.
HILL: Secretary Granholm, good to have you with us this morning.
GRANHOLM: Thanks so much.
Bongino’s viral Rumble.com post claimed that Granholm, Biden’s Energy Secretary, suggested that climate change was the cause of the June 24 2021 building collapse in Miami.
In fact, CNN Anchor Erica Hill asked Granholm whether that was possible, and Granholm did not suggest any such thing. In response to Hill’s question, Granholm said “we don’t know fully, but we do know that the seas are rising.” Although the claim that Granholm suggested climate change caused the Miami building collapse wasn’t true, we rated the claim Decontextualized.