Britney Griner’s return to America earlier this month was heralded by President Joe Biden and others on the left as being a major achievement.
However, a report from ESPN on Griner’s return suggest that the media narrative on her ordeal has gone off the rails.
The network acknowledged that a recent homecoming reception held near the college where the basketball star once played was sparsely attended.
Event organizer “really wanted to see more”
According to ESPN, only around 20 people showed up for the event at University Baptist Church, which is located roughly two miles away from Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
The small crowd seems inconsistent with the outpouring of praise that Griner has received since she was arrested in a Russian airport this past February after authorities discovered hash oil in her vape cartridges.
While Griner was initially sentenced in August to 9 years behind bars, the WNBA player returned home on December 8 after as part of an exchange in which the United States released Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout.
Nicknamed the “Merchant of Death,” Bout was found guilty in 2011 of attempting to arm a Colombian-based terror group. Then Attorney General Eric Holder touted Bout’s conviction in a press release, saying, “Today, one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers is being held accountable for his sordid past.”
“Viktor Bout’s arms trafficking activity and support of armed conflicts have been a source of concern around the globe for decades,” Holder declared.
“Today, he faces the prospect of life in prison for his efforts to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to terrorists for use in killing Americans,” the attorney general concluded.
Sharyl West Loeung organized Griner’s event, and she complained that the lack of enthusiasm was evidence of hypocrisy from Baylor’s administration along with racism and homophobia.
“For myself, coming from a graduate of the seminary and having worked there and [knowing] how much they confess being this Christian organization, I really wanted to see more,” ESPN quoted Loeung as saying.
Event organizer: Some “are upset” Griner was freed instead of former Marine
Yet even Loeung acknowledged that “there are people who are upset that there was a former Marine who was not brought home and she was.”
Loeung was referring to Paul Whelan, a 52-year-old former Marine who is imprisoned in Russia on espionage charges.
Podcaster Joe Rogan recently played a clip in which Russian media figures argued that the Biden administration prioritized Griner’s release over Whelan because she is an African American woman with leftist views. Fox News reported in 2020 that Griner called for the WNBA to stop playing the national anthem before games.