Dana Bash, a CNN presenter, questioned whether Brittney Griner’s decision to be at the wrong place at the wrong time was motivated by her desire to earn a smaller salary than male professional basketball players.
NEW Fox News articles can now be heard on audio! Dana Bash, the chief political correspondent for CNN, asserted that Brittney Griner’s nine-year sentence to a Russian prison may have been influenced by the WNBA’s lower compensation than NBA players.
Bash argued that Griner wouldn’t have needed to play in Russia to bring in money for the league if it weren’t for the wage discrepancy. She would never have been detained for possessing cannabis oil vape cartridges in a Moscow airport as a result.
Brittney Griner, a player for the Phoenix Mercury, pleaded guilty to marijuana possession and smuggling of cannabis oil last month. On Thursday, a Russian court sentenced Griner to nine years in jail. In addition to the punishment, Griner was also fined the equivalent of $16,400 in Russian Rubles.
Anchor Dana Bash found a way to bring up the income disparity between male and female basketball players in reference to Griner’s imprisonment during a Thursday CNN segment analyzing the breaking news.
In Khimki, west of Moscow, on August 2, 2022, US basketball player Brittney Griner waits in a defendants’ cage before a court hearing during her trial on drug smuggling allegations. Just days before Moscow’s attack in Ukraine began in February 2022, Griner was detained at the Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow. She was accused of importing drugs because she had vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. At the trial on July 27, Griner stated that she was still unsure of how the cartridges got into her backpack. (Image courtesy of EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/POOL/AFP) (Image via Getty Images, courtesy of EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/POOL/AFP)
“I wonder what your thoughts are,” Bash asked her guest, CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan. “And as you answer that, I just sort of want to inject one thing here, which is that the reason Brittney Griner and other women are playing basketball in Russia is because they dont get paid anywhere near what the men get paid in the U.S.”
Bash said, “And that’s simply what they do.”
Brennan replied, “Exactly, Dana,” firmly endorsing the hypothesis. She said, “Brittney Griners pay is roughly $230,000 to $240,000, which is the top wage in the WNBA. You can increase it by an additional couple hundred thousand using bonuses.
She stated that these salaries are lower than the top NBA pay, which is “around $40 million.”
“So, the high range for the NBA for the guys is obviously $40 million, and hundreds of thousands for the ladies. So, yeah, they travel abroad. They play, and it’s not just Russia; it’s also China, Spain, Italy, and Turkey, and this is how they may increase their income, according to Brenna. And that’s what Brittney Griner was doing, she continued.
On Friday, July 15, 2022, WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold winner Brittney Griner is led to a courtroom for a hearing in the Khimki district court, located just outside Moscow, Russia. Griner was detained in February at Sheremetyevo Airport in the Russian capital after customs agents allegedly discovered vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage. Since then, she has been detained; if found guilty, she may spend up to 10 years in prison. Jim Heintz/AP Photo
In another segment of the program, Bash asked CNN Senior International Correspondent Frederik Pleitgen, “Let’s just get honest, how much of this is because she is a 69″ black, lesbian American?” The reporter said that Griner’s citizenship may have strengthened her sentence, but added that whether or not her race and sexual orientation affected the verdict was “open for debate.”
No matter what other reasons may or may not have played a role in the severity of the WNBA star’s prison term, the U.S. State Department has declared Griner to have been “wrongfully imprisoned” by Russia. The same was said by Vice President Joe Biden, who referred to her arrest as “unacceptable.”
FILE – On September 3, 2019, in Phoenix, Arizona, Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner pauses on the floor during the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm. (AP Photo/File: Ross D. Franklin)
At Fox News, Gabriel Hays works as an associate editor. @gabrieljhays is his Twitter handle to follow.