CBS News Gets Brittney Griner Scoop

U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner disembarks from a plane in San Antonio, Texas, after being released from custody in Russia.
U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner disembarks from a plane in San Antonio, Texas, after being released from custody in Russia. (Image credit: Suzanne Cordirero/AFP via Getty Images)

CBS News broke the Brittney Griner release story (opens in new tab), according to CNN Reliable Sources, and had been aware of the prisoner swap involving the basketball star and Viktor Bout for days. CBS News reported it had "learned last Thursday that the Griner-for-Bout swap was in the offing but agreed to a White House request to hold the reporting because officials expressed grave concern about the fragility of the then-emerging deal."

CBS News reported December 9: "CBS News was first to report the swap, which took place in the United Arab Emirates, citing a U.S. official. Five former U.S. officials told CBS News the agreement was reached last Thursday."

Through a spokesperson, CBS News and Stations president and co-head Neeraj Khemlani told Reliable Sources, "We take seriously our responsibility as journalists to cover the story fully without putting lives in immediate danger." He credited the CBS News White House and Department of Justice teams, the foreign affairs and investigative teams, and the CBS News Washington bureau.

Griner was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony after she was convicted on a drug charge in Russia. She plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA.

She landed in the U.S. Friday morning and was taken to the U.S. Army’s Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.

CBS Mornings anchor Gayle King spoke with Cherelle Griner, wife of Brittney, the night of December 8. Cherelle spoke about when President Joe Biden informed her that Brittney was headed home: “I’m smiling so much, my face hurts.” ■

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.