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NBC News Stealth Edits Report To Match WH Account Of Griner Swap With Russia

NBC News Stealth Edits Report To Match WH Account Of Griner Swap With Russia

“But the [senior U.S.] 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,” NBC News originally reported.

Understandably, the news of the prisoner swap deal between the United States and Russia in which Russia got convicted arms dealer Viktor “Merchant of Death” Bout in exchange for WNBA player Brittney Griner sparked renewed concerns over making such deals in the first place, with some critics suggesting they effectively incentivize bad-faith actors in foreign governments to arrest and detain American citizens.

It also raised questions as to why retired Marine Paul Whelan, who has been in a Russian prison since 2018 stemming from espionage charges leveled against him while he was reportedly in the country for a friend’s wedding, was left behind a second time this year (Biden also authorized a prisoner swap in April that brought home Marine veteran Trevor Reed).

The Biden administration has repeatedly insisted that after attempting a two-for-one deal the Kremlin gave them no choice but to pick Griner – who has been detained in Russia since February – alone, with one senior administration official telling reporters that Russia said it was Griner or no one:

“Due to the nature of the sham espionage charges Russia levied against Paul, the Russians have continued to treat his situation differently from Brittney’s and rejected each and every one of our proposals for his release,” a senior administration official said. “It was a choice between bringing home one particular American, Brittney Griner, or bringing home none.”

“The Russians were not negotiating in good faith” on Paul Whelan’s release, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said hours later in a news conference.

But in an NBC News story filed Thursday, the day of Griner’s release, they originally reported a “senior U.S. official” as saying the Kremlin did indeed give Biden a choice between Griner and Whelan (bolded emphasis mine):

A senior U.S. official told NBC News that the U.S. government had sought to have both Griner and Whelan released as part of a swap with the Kremlin, which wanted the return of Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who has served 11 years of a 25-year sentence in the U.S. 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.

At some point that report was stealth edited to note that “the official said that 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 correction eventually was noted at the bottom of the story after conservative news outlets like The Blaze inquired about the change:

CORRECTION (Dec. 8, 2022, 4:09 p.m.): 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 quiet revision to the story was reminiscent of NBC News’ treatment of the Paul Pelosi assault story, where the network suspended reporter Miguel Almaguer without explanation last month after he shared details from his sources that didn’t match up with what the San Francisco PD originally put out there, stating that it was Pelosi who answered the door to the police and then walked back toward suspect David DePape (initial information by the police led people to believe a third person had been in the home and answered the door).

Is it possible that NBC News simply incorrectly interpreted what they were told by that “senior U.S. official”? Sure, but considering the fallout from their Paul Pelosi story and past instances where they’ve been caught stealth editing stories to fit a pre-conceived narrative, do not give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —


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The “or, or, or” option was reported by no less than Andrea Mitchell. Not exactly a pro-Trump reporter. As for NBC, “Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.”

Otto Kringelein | December 11, 2022 at 2:46 pm

And it’s odd that every report that I read it states that Griner was swapped for a “Russian” individual. They fail to mention that this “Russian” is also known as the “Merchant of Death” and will most likely go back to his old ways selling weapons that will be used against U.S. citizens and military. Odd that.

    This protected minority b-ball player was more “valuable” now for the admin than some “Russian” and future deaths. As Orwell wrote.. all that counts for the Party is the “now” and its value to the Party. Time can disconnect the obvious dots as memory fades or erased. Russia probably knew for some time that Griner was breaking their laws. It was just a matter of time to spring the trap. If she chooses to take a knee again… fine… but no second chance if she crosses the line again.

Never underestimate the ability of the Russians to lie in order to yank around negotiators they think are weak. It would not shock me in the slightest to find out the Russians dangled both Americans on the list until they got a firm commitment from the US on releasing their employee, then yanked back the most valuable negotiating token and passed over somebody absolutely worthless to them. Next, expect Russia to dangle Whelen out there again to swap for a different valuable Russian spy or two, now that they know they can flip any of Biden’s team like a pancake. They can probably get three or four spies back before his use as bait is gone.

Feckless and weak, Fraud elections have bigger consequences
Everything for the State, Nothing against the State

A real president would have just said: “keep her(?).”

You could use some “appreciate America” time.

If the drooling dementia patients handlers had gotten BOTH Whelan and Griner for the arms dealer it would have been a terrible deal.

The fact that they ONLY got the moronic pothead is just horrific.

It just boggles my mind how stupid they had to be to go through with this. How could they have believed this was going to be anything other than a PR disaster?

You can tell hoe baf the backlash was because it was totally dumped from the mainstream news cycle within 24 hours. Normally with something like this you’d see breathless coverage of them flying back, being greeted on the tarmac by a cheering crowd and her LGTBQDHEBCH ‘spouse’, and a big speech by Biden about how they worked hard to being her home.

Instead, total crickets at this point.

That’s how you know EVERYBODY knows this was a horrific deal.

Why now? We had Commander Weapons Supply-Chain for 11 years, They had the WNBA player and The Retired Marine for months and more.

If it was our idea, why now?
If it was Russia’s idea, why now?

Could somebody use a highly-effective international arms dealer about now? IDK, somebody with a war on, who is running low on stuff to war with? Do we know anybody like that lately?

    henrybowman in reply to BierceAmbrose. | December 11, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    Don’t forget, we handed this guy to Putin, so I don’t see any way he gets out to play with the Azovs. And any scenario where this was to aid Putin is just too bizarre to contemplate.

      BierceAmbrose in reply to henrybowman. | December 12, 2022 at 3:39 pm


      This guy who has an alt-arms sourcing Rolodex, now under control of a country alt-sourcing material for its hot war from North Korea, among others.

      Seems like a good get for them. The Russian regime has various value to offer, if they can find people with what they need, and no compunction about selling to them.

I’ll bet that after all of this she still will not appreciate our country nor show any respect for our flag.

    GWB in reply to Paula. | December 12, 2022 at 9:41 am

    Heck, she was in a place that operates exactly how she advocates America should work. She should have been kicking and screaming to not get on that homeward-bound plane.

Joe Biden has been lying and plagerising for over 45 years. All in the public eye. Add the perpetual “gaffes”. Then, while campaigning from his basement, he gets more votes for President than anyone, ever. Now, as a leading gun control advocate, trades a doper ball player for the premiere arms dealer of Russia. We are so screwed!

And the rest of the civilized world is laughing their asses off on this bad deal. I have buddies in Germany, UAE, and Australia that have all sent me videos of their local news stating what a bad deal the Americans made for the prisoner trade selecting a transgender, lesbian, America hating black woman over a highly decorated white male Marine who was a spy serving his country


When will Elon Musk (or some other billionaire consortium loyal to America) buy NBC?

Let’s not forget bad faith actors in domestic government and media

Let’s not forget bad faith actors in domestic government and media

Once again, just for the record, NBC is a Comcast ‘news’ operation (one of many). Keep Comcast in the discussion, use the name, associate it with poor oversight of shoddy journalism. (Or, getting caught at something else.)

Suburban Farm Guy | December 12, 2022 at 9:40 am

Great. She can go back to smoking dope, and he can go back to killing thousands of innocent people