OANN reporter banned from White House press briefings

One America News Network Chanel Rion was banned today from the White House press briefings after she violated the social distancing rules put in place over the coronavirus:

DEADLINE – 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.

According to the New York Post, Rion simply couldn’t be in there every day, that she was part of a rotation and that she was coming on days when she wasn’t in rotation:

Access to the briefing room was restricted to about 15 reporters daily under strict guidelines issued last month by White House officials and the White House Correspondents Association. Several smaller news organizations can only rotate into the room once every several days.

The Post notes that OANN’s founder is defending Rion:

In an email to The Washington Post, OANN founder and chief executive Charles Herring said Rion’s presence “was appropriate” and that she was invited to attend the briefing, though he declined to say who invited her and why.

I checked Stephanie Grisham’s twitter account to see if she’s said anything about inviting Rion, and so far she hasn’t. I checked Rion’s twitter account and the only thing she seems to have done is retweet the fact that she’s been banned, without comment.

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