White House Correspondents Association removes conservative network from coronavirus briefings

On Wednesday, the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) announced that it was removing the One America News Network (OANN), from its coronavirus briefing rotation, Fox News reported.

The decision was released to the public via the WHCA’s Twitter account, citing a violation of social distancing rules within the briefing room.

Not distant enough

“As you are all aware, the WHCA issued a policy last month to restrict seating in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room to comply with CDC guidelines on social distancing,” WHCA’s board tweeted. “Under this policy, we have asked reporters who don’t have a seat not to attend press briefings.”

The board went on: “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,” the message concluded. “We do not take this action lightly. This is a matter of public safety.”

In its report on the removal, Fox News noted that OANN’s White House correspondent Chanel Rion asked questions on Wednesday while standing at the back of the room, with OANN anchor Alex Salvi stating that Rion was present as a special guest of White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to significant changes in Washington, and fears that Donald Trump or Mike Pence may contract the virus have caused the White House to enact rigorous screenings and social distancing policies to avert the threat.

OANN’s fan in the White House

OANN is known for its ardent support for President Trump, with some accusing the outlet of asking him so-called softball questions during his daily press briefings.

At one such event earlier in the month, Rion asked the president, “Do you consider the term ‘Chinese food’ racist because it’s food that originates in China or it has Chinese roots?”

That was a reference to Trump’s habit of referring to COVID-19 as a “Chinese virus,” a practice that critics have condemned as being racist.

In turn, the president has frequently made his support for the network known. “Thank you to [OANN] for your fair coverage and brilliant reporting,” he tweeted last October.

The president added: “It is appreciated by many people trying so hard to find a new, consistent and powerful VOICE!”

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