Recently, NBC put out a sensational bombshell report — in which it was alleged that officials in Russia first offered the Biden administration the choice between WNBA star Brittney Griner and Marine veteran Paul Whelan as options for the prison swap from Thursday — before quickly having to retract and issue a correction to it in the wake of White House going public with an alternative story.
David Hooksteadm from Outkick, highlighted a series of screenshots showing both the first published story and then the newer edited one, stating, “NBC had a bombshell report that Russia offered America Brittney Griner OR Paul Whelan, citing a senior government official. It would be Biden’s choice which one to save. The report was later edited without explanation to mirror Biden’s explanation that only Griner was offered.”
NBC had a bombshell report that Russia offered America Brittney Griner OR Paul Whelan, citing a senior government official. It would be Biden's choice which one to save.
The report was later edited without explanation to mirror Biden's explanation that only Griner was offered. pic.twitter.com/5BvGeyP0RU
— David Hookstead (@dhookstead) December 9, 2022
Both the first and then the subsequent edited story highlighted that Russia was willing to make a trade in order to free convicted international arms dealer Viktor Bout. The arms dealer has already served a total of 11 years of his 25-year prison sentence.
“But the official said Russia has treated Whelan differently because he is an accused spy, and that the Kremlin gave the White House the choice of either Griner or Whelan — or none,” read the text from the first published story.
However, the altered copy put forth a slight change, stating that Russian officials had only chosen to offer up Griner for the deal, stating, “But the official said Russia has treated Whelan differently because he is accused of spying and that the Kremlin ultimately gave the White House the choice of Griner or no one after different options were proposed.”
The article seemingly included another correction, stating, “an earlier version of this article misstated the choice the Biden administration was given over hostages. It was to swap for Griner or no one, not a choice between Griner or Whelan.”
The second published copy quickly changed to match the claims from the White House almost word for word. After Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre took some time to highlight all of the reasons it was amazing that Griner was coming home — most importantly that she was “more than an athlete, more than an Olympian, she is an important role model and inspiration to millions of Americans, particularly the LGBTQI+ Americans and women of color” — she stated to the gathered press, “unfortunately, the choice became to either bring Brittney home or no one.”
Karine Jean-Pierre on why the White House was able to bring WNBA player Brittney Griner home but not former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan:
“Unfortunately, the choice became to either bring Brittney home or no one.” pic.twitter.com/KTUcWCHfmZ
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) December 8, 2022
John Bolton, a former National Security Advisor, threw additional doubt on the claim from the Biden administration when he stated that the Kremlin had first offered Whelan as a part one-for-one swap for Bout. He expressed at that time that then-President Donald Trump had shot down the deal — and openly excoriated Biden for now going back to the deal.
“The possibility of a Bout-for-Whelan trade existed back then and it wasn’t made, for very good reasons having to deal with Viktor Bout,” stated BOlton during an interview with CBS, going on to state that he labeled the current deal — Bout for Griner — as a “very bad mistake.”
“This is not a deal. This is not a swap. This is a surrender. And terrorists and rogue states all around the world will take note of this, and it endangers other Americans in the future who can be grabbed and used as bargaining chips by people who don’t have the same morals and scruples that we do,” concluded Bolton. “There are occasions when you swap spies. Obviously, there are legitimate exchanges of prisoners of war. But this doesn’t even approximate that. The idea that somehow what Brittney Griner did — very foolishly, in my estimate — but that whatever she did compares to Viktor Bout is something that shows just how desperate the administration was to make this deal. And I’m just very worried about the effect it has and the danger that it can put many other Americans in, all around the world.”