A reporter barred on Wednesday from covering White House press conferences planned on attending Thursday’s daily briefing as a guest of White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
Chanel Rion, a White House reporter for One America News (OAN), said during an appearance on the network on Thursday afternoon that she would go to the briefing later in the day. Grisham invited Rion on Wednesday and asked the reporter to come again on Thursday.
“I will be in the briefing room today if there’s no physical complications with that,” the reporter said.
Charles Herring, the CEO of One America News, confirmed to The Epoch Times that Rion was invited to attend the briefing on Thursday by Grisham.
The White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) said in a statement Wednesday night that OAN was removed from the rotation of reporters who are allowed into the briefings because she twice attended them “in contravention” of a social distancing policy.
WHCA Statement on Removing News Organization from News Briefing Seat Rotation pic.twitter.com/KL3XcPq7Rt
— WHCA (@whca) April 1, 2020
Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, the association issued the policy cutting down on the number of reporters allowed in the room amid the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
The association assigns certain seats to certain outlets, rotating the seats among print, radio, and television reporters.
Rion stood in the back on Wednesday as a guest of Grisham’s. She has had a seat in the room in recent weeks on several occasions.
Photographs and video footage showed other reporters and photographers coming within six feet of each other repeatedly during the briefing, which would violate CDC guidelines.
“They said I was violating social distancing guidelines by standing in that room when I was not allowed to. Now, if you look at footage of that briefing room, photographers are standing in that pathway. For the most part, you see a lot of them getting a lot closer than 6 feet,” Rion said on Thursday. “My positioning in that room, I was away from the majority of people for the majority of the time.”
Herring told The Epoch Times in an email that the White House Correspondents Association failed to note Rion was an invited guest of Grisham.
“OAN’s presence in the briefing room was therefore appropriate,” he wrote.
“OAN’s reporter stood in the back of the room to adequately address social distancing. The WHCA organization members were aware that Ms. Rion was extended an invitation by Stephanie Grisham, but took retaliatory action anyway.”
Rion last month asked President Donald Trump, who opens every briefing, about some media outlets promoting Chinese Communist Party narratives, including the accusation that Trump calling the illness the “Chinese virus” was racist.
“Is it alarming that major media players, just to oppose you, are siding with foreign state propaganda, Islamic radicals, and Latin gangs and cartels and they work right here out of the White House with direct access to you and your team?” she asked.
Trump said that he was amazed when he reads some stories, adding, “I don’t think anybody has done as much as I have done in three years. This administration has done a great job. But the press is very dishonest.”
Herring suggested the reporter association’s move could be retaliation for that question.
Rion was promoted to lead the network’s White House coverage in January.
“We’re delighted to have Chanel lead our White House coverage. She’s fully engaged in the news cycle and not afraid to ask the tough questions,” Herring said at the time.