UPDATE: One American News Network’s Chanel Rion said that she will again attend the White House coronavirus briefing, even though the White House Correspondents’ Association removed the network from its pool to cover the press conference, citing her violation of social distancing guidelines.
Rion said on the network that White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham invited her again to attend as her guest, standing in the back.
One America News Network had been assigned a seat in the briefing room, but only as part of a rotation of media outlets. Yet Rion had attended the briefings on Tuesday and Wednesday, on days when OANN was not designated to get a seat, and stood in the back of the room. The WHCA said that is in violation of policies put in place during the coronavirus crisis to limit the number of people who attend and space reporters apart in the seats.
On OANN, Rion argued that she was distanced from other reporters.
“I was away from the majority of the people the majority of the time,” she said.
PREVIOUSLY: The White House Correspondents’ Association voted to remove conservative outlet One America News Network from the pool rotation at President Donald Trump’s coronavirus briefings, after its correspondent violated social distancing guidelines.
In a letter to members, the WHCA board wrote that they voted to remove the outlet, known for its pro-Trump coverage. They cited a policy, put in place because of concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, that limits the briefing room to just 14 seated correspondents. No reporters are allowed to stand on the sidelines, as they routinely did in the past.
“We did this because a reporter for this outlet twice attended press briefings in contravention of this policy,” the WHCA said. “We do not take this action lightly. This is a matter of public safety.”
The reporter and the outlet was not identified, but other members have complained about the presence of Chanel Rion, its chief White House correspondent. OANN has a seat in the briefings, but only as part of a rotation of outlets, and Rion has been present even on days when she was not assigned.
Paula Reid, CBS News White House correspondent, wrote on Twitter that One America News “is in the rotation of reporters who get to attend briefings but seem to think they get to play by different & put safety at risk.” The Los Angeles Times reported that Rion was asked at a previous briefing to leave, but she refused and said she was there as a guest of Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.
Trump has called on Rion at briefings and praised the outlet for their questions — often softballs and, at one point last month, even conspiratorial toward other media outlets. At at press conference on March 19, she asked, “The major left-wing news media, even in this room, have teamed up with Chinese communist party narratives, and they claim you are racist for making these claims about the Chinese virus. Is it alarming that major media players, just to oppose you, are consistently siding with foreign state propaganda, Islamic radicals and Latin gangs and cartels, and they work right here in the White House with direct access to you and your team?”