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Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg is interviewed on MSNBC. (Screenshot) Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg is interviewed on MSNBC. (Screenshot)

Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg is interviewed on MSNBC. (Screenshot)

Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg June 22, 2021

Manipulated video distorts Greta Thunberg’s comments on climate change

If Your Time is short

  • The Instagram video distorts what Greta Thunberg said about climate change.

  • The video cut several key sentences out of an interview Thunberg gave to MSNBC, in which she emphasized the need for leaders to tell voters that climate change is a real crisis.

With a little video manipulation, you can make someone appear to say something they never meant. That’s what the Instagram user Republican Party News did with a clip of teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

Thunberg — the Swede that Time Magazine named 2019 Person of the Year — was interviewed March 7 on Mehdi Hasan’s MSNBC show. A June 21 Instagram post from Republican Party News (which is not the official GOP party account) wrote this caption for its cut of the video: "Greta says climate change doesn’t exist."

The video quickly garnered nearly 165,000 views. In it, Hasan asks Thunberg what she would tell President Joe Biden to do.

"I would just tell him to tell the situation as it is," Thunberg says in the clip. "Since the climate crisis doesn’t exist, how can we expect people to want climate action?"

A careful viewer would notice Thunberg’s image jump ever so slightly between the two sentences. Because that’s where one of two edits occurred.

What Thunberg actually emphasized was the need for leaders to tell voters that the climate crisis is an existential threat.

Here is the transcript of Thunberg’s complete answer. Marked in bold are the sentences that the Instagram post cut out.

Hasan: "Is there a specific policy goal if he rang you up and said Greta, what should I do? I can wave a presidential magic wand, what should I do that I’m not? What would you say?" 

Thunberg: "Nothing because that's not democratic. I mean, an elected leader cannot do anything without support from voters. And I would not want anyone to do anything that would not have the support, because that would be undemocratic and democracy is the most precious thing that we have and we must not risk that.

"So, what we need now is to raise awareness. To create public opinion. To treat the crisis like a crisis. Because if people are not aware of the crisis that we face, of course, they won’t put pressure on the elected leaders. So, I would just tell him to tell the situation as it is. Because I mean, yes, you could say, I meet with a lot of world leaders and they say ‘I can't do anything because I don't have the support from voters.’ Well, how can you expect support and pressure from voters if you aren’t treating the crisis like a crisis — since the climate crisis doesn’t exist, how can we expect people to want climate action?"

You can compare the videos for yourself.

Here’s the manipulated video:

Here’s the actual video:

Our ruling

An Instagram user edited an interview to make it seem that Thunberg said that "the climate crisis doesn’t exist."

In reality, Thunberg emphasized the need for leaders to tell voters that climate change is a real crisis. She explained why people would not press for change if they thought climate change didn’t exist.

That’s the complete opposite of what the post claimed.

We rate this post Pants on Fire.

 

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Manipulated video distorts Greta Thunberg’s comments on climate change

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