OANN Barred From White House COVID-19 Briefings For Defying Social Distancing Rules

“We do not take this action lightly. This is a matter of public safety," the White House Correspondents Association said of removing the far-right network.

The White House Correspondents Associations decided Wednesday to remove the far-right One America News Network from its seating rotation for daily coronavirus briefings because its reporter has repeatedly violated social distancing guidelines.

The association’s board released a statement citing a policy it created last month that restricts seating at the White House’s James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in order to comply with social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Under the policy, White House correspondents have been asked not to attend the briefings if they don’t have an assigned seat “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,” the association’s board said. “We did this because a reporter for this outlet twice attended press briefings in contravention of this policy.”

Wednesday was the second time that an OANN correspondent attended the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing in defiance of the WHCA’s social distancing requirements. The correspondent, Chanel Rion, violated the policy by standing in the back of the room on two occasions when she was not listed on the briefing seat rotation.

“We do not take this action lightly,” the board said in its statement. “This is a matter of public safety.”

Rion made headlines for her racist remarks during an earlier coronavirus briefing when she asked a leading question about whether President Donald Trump considers the term “Chinese food” to be racist. (Trump has been rightfully criticized for calling the pandemic the “Chinese Virus.”)

She also attempted to peddle a right-wing conspiracy theory, saying American journalists “have teamed up with Chinese Communist Party narratives” and are siding with “foreign state propaganda, Islamic radicalism, Latin gangs and cartels.”

OANN is a small, family-owned conservative television network based in San Diego that has been challenging bigger outlets like Fox News for conservative cable and satellite TV viewers. The network has found a fan in President Donald Trump by solely giving him favorable coverage. 

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