CNN anchor and chief political correspondent Dana Bash claimed that the WNBA’s low pay, as compared to NBA players’ salaries, could have been a factor in the sentencing of WNBA player Brittney Griner to nine years in a Russian prison.
Bash insisted that if it weren’t for the wage gap, Griner wouldn’t have had to play in Russia to generate revenue for the league. Thus, she would have never been arrested for having cannabis oil vape cartridges at a Moscow airport.
After pleading guilty to drug possession and drug smuggling of cannabis oil last month, Phoenix Mercury player Brittney Griner was handed a nine-year prison sentence by a Russian court on Thursday. Griner was fined the equivalent of $16,400 in Russian Rubles in addition to the sentence.
During a Thursday CNN segment discussing the breaking news, anchor Dana Bash found a way to hammer the wealth gap between male and female basketball players in relation to Griner’s imprisonment.
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Seeking comment from her guest, CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan, Bash stated, “I wonder what your thoughts are, and as you answer that, I just want to sort of inject one thing here, which is that, the reason Brittney Griner and other women are in Russia playing basketball is because they don’t get paid anywhere near what the men get paid in the U.S.”
“And that’s just what they do,” Bash affirmed.
Brennan fully supported the theory, responding, “Exactly, Dana.” She then explained, “Brittney Griner’s salary – the top salary in the WNBA – is about $230,000, $240,000. With bonuses, you can get it up another couple hundred thousand.”
She compared those wages to the highest NBA salary, which she claimed is “over $40 million.”
“So hundreds of thousands for the women, and $40 million – is obviously the high range for the NBA – for the men. So yes, they go overseas. They play, it’s not just Russia, it’s China, it’s Spain, it’s Italy, it’s Turkey, and this where they can supplement their salaries,” Brenna stated. She added, “And that’s what Brittney Griner was doing.”
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Speaking to CNN senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen in another portion of the show, Bash asked, “Let’s just get real, how much of this is because she is a 6’9″, black, lesbian American?” The reporter replied that Griner being American could very well have strengthened her punishment, though claimed that her race and sex affecting her sentence is “up for debate.”
Regardless of which external factors may or may not have contributed to the severity of the WNBA star’s prison sentence, the U.S. State Department has considered Griner “wrongfully detained” by Russia. President Joe Biden has stated the same, calling her arrest “unacceptable.”
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