CNN’s Bash blames wage gap for Griner arrest, claims player wouldn’t have been in Russia if WNBA paid like NBA

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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, the Phoenix Mercury center 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 CNN segment Thursday discussing the breaking news, Bash found a way to hammer the wealth gap between male and female basketball players in relation to Griner’s imprisonment. 

CNN’s Bash blames wage gap for Griner arrest, claims player wouldn't have been in Russia if WNBA paid like NBA

WNBA player Brittney Griner stands in a defendant’s cage before a court hearing in Khimki, Russia, on Aug. 2, 2022. (EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/POOL/AFP)

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Seeking comment from her guest, CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan, Bash asked, “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.” 

Brennan 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,” Brennan explained, adding, “And that’s what Brittney Griner was doing.”

CNN’s Bash blames wage gap for Griner arrest, claims player wouldn't have been in Russia if WNBA paid like NBA

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing in the Khimki district court, just outside Moscow, Russia, on July 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Jim Heintz)

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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 he claimed 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 Biden has stated the same, calling her arrest “unacceptable.”

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CNN’s Bash blames wage gap for Griner arrest, claims player wouldn't have been in Russia if WNBA paid like NBA

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner pauses on the court during the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm in Phoenix, Arizona, on Sept. 3, 2019.
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

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