A Russian court on Thursday sentenced Brittney Griner, the left-wing activist and WNBA “star,” to nine years in prison for attempting to smuggle cannabis oil into the authoritarian country. American journalists pounced on the news in an effort to make a political point about sexism and income inequality.
“Let’s just get real,” said CNN host Dana Bash, who went on to suggest that Griner was found guilty “because she is a 6-foot-9, black, lesbian American.” Earlier in the broadcast, Bash complained that Griner was arrested and convicted for illegally possessing drugs in Russia because of the gender pay gap in America.
“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.,” the journalist said. (Fact Check: True. WNBA players make less compared with NBA players in part because the men’s league earns 132 times more revenue [$7.92 billion] than the women’s league [$60 million], which operates at a loss and is subsidized by the NBA. Griner is not good enough to play in the NBA.)
Griner isn’t poor. She is one of the highest-paid players in the WNBA, taking home $228,000 a year (not including bonuses). She has a $1 million endorsement deal with Nike. She doesn’t really need the extra cash (about $1 million per season) she earns by playing in Russia. As former president Barack Obama once said, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”
For the sake of context, Obama defined “wealthy” as any individual earning more than $200,000. So even if Griner’s WNBA salary was her sole source of income, the former president would argue that she had a moral obligation to pay more in taxes to help finance Obamacare and other federal programs.
As Obama so eloquently argued during his presidency, wanting to be even wealthier than his definition of “wealthy” is just plain greedy. Furthermore, most Americans would agree that seeking employment in Vladimir Putin’s Russia is morally indefensible. No one needs to do it. There is no amount of money that could justify the unconscionable act of subsidizing and legitimizing an autocratic regime.
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