OANN’s Chanel Rion Says White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham Invited Her Back to Briefing Room

Rion was barred Wednesday by the White House Correspondents Association for breaking its social distancing rules

Last Updated: April 2, 2020 @ 12:31 PM

One America News Network’s says Chanel Rion she has been personally invited to Thursday’s press briefing, one day after being barred by the White House Correspondents Association for breaking social distancing rules.

“#BREAKING: OANN White House Correspondent @ChanelRion tells me she has been invited by @PressSec Stephanie Grisham to attend today’s coronavirus press briefing, despite being voted out the rotation by the @whca yesterday for violating social distancing guidelines,” tweeted Rion’s OANN colleague Jennifer Franco after Rion announced it during a segment.

Representatives for the White House press department did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment. WHCA president Jonathan Karl said in a statement to TheWrap, “In order to comply with the social distancing guidelines, and to take steps to ensure the health and safety of the press corps and White House staff, there is no room for reporters who do not have an assigned seat today, or on any given day, to be standing in the briefing room. If somebody is to be a guest of the White House, they should be sitting in the seats to the side which are set aside for White House staff.”

In a statement sent to members and posted to Twitter Wednesday evening, the WHCA noted new rules that had been implemented to restrict access to the press briefing room in an effort to reduce the likelihood of reporters or staff contracting the coronavirus.

“Under this policy, we have asked reporters who don’t have a seat not to attend press briefings,” the statement said, thanking members who respected the policy and followed it “to ensure the safety of the White House press corps and White House staff during this difficult time.”

“We are writing to inform you that the WHCA Board has voted this evening to remove a news outlet from the rotation for a seat in the briefing room. We did this because a reporter for this outlet twice attended press briefings in contravention of this policy. We do not take this action lightly. This is a matter of public safety,” the statement concluded.

Rion and her right-wing network are known for being sympathetic to the president. During a mid-March press conference on the spread of the coronavirus — which President Donald Trump has been heavily criticized for calling the “Chinese virus” — Rion, who earlier that week cited a conspiracy theory that the coronavirus was possibly created in a North Carolina lab, said, “Do you consider the term ‘Chinese food’ racist because it’s food that originates in China or it has Chinese roots?”

Trump himself has repeatedly praised the network.

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