Conservative media figures responded to news that a Russian court had sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison on drug smuggling charges by shaming her for criticizing the American justice system in the past. The reaction across right-wing media was consistent with earlier targeting of the star, much of which portrayed her detention as poetic justice for her history of activism in the United States.
“Brittney Griner and many athletes have pointed out injustice in the American justice system,” Will Cain said on Fox News. “I think today is a very appropriate time to take a bigger, global, contextual look at the American justice system and realize it is the exception in human history.”
“What you are seeing in Russia is par for the course,” Cain continued. “The justice system here is the exception, our dedication to due process. It doesn't mean we are perfect, but this would not happen in the United States of America.”
In fact, the United States has a long history of sending people to prison for years, including life sentences, for nonviolent drug-related or property crimes. Contrary to Cain’s larger point, rates of incarceration in the United States far those in outpace Russia, according to data from the Prison Policy Initiative.
Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren was positively giddy upon hearing Griner’s sentence.
Conservative YouTuber Steven Crowder responded to the breaking news live on his stream. “I’m sorry, this goes to the entitlement mindset of someone who thinks, Well, I have the right to do this. No you don’t,” Crowder said. “You didn’t know that hash oil was going to be a problem in Russia? And, by the way, you didn’t think they were going to pat you down as a Black American?”
Right-wing talk radio host Erick Erickson argued the same point, saying that it was “arrogance” on the part of Griner to think she wouldn’t be punished for breaking Russian law.
Griner’s defense team said that she brought the cannabis oil with her by accident, and that she has a medical card for its legal use in Arizona.
Right-wing filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza argued that the United States has acted analogously to Russia in prosecuting those who engaged in a fascist insurrection to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Brent Scher, executive editor of the Free Beacon, reacted to the news with mocking commentary about the well-documented fact that WNBA athletes often play basketball in Russia in the offseason to supplement their income, which is far below their male counterparts in the United States.
Gettr CEO and former Trump adviser Jason Miller attacked the Biden administration implicitly.
Conservative pundit Ari Fleischer made the same point, arguing that Biden “doesn’t have leverage around the world anymore.” In 2003, Fleischer served as press secretary under George W. Bush and helped the administration sell the country on the Iraq War, one of the most globally destabilizing actions of the last 30 years.
Griner has been held by Russia since her arrest in February. The Biden administration is reportedly considering a prisoner swap to have her and fellow U.S. citizen Paul Wehlan returned to the United States.