The White House Correspondents' Association is getting serious about social distancing rules at daily coronavirus briefings, giving the boot to one of the president's most supportive news outlets after a reporter failed to adhere to guidelines put in place to help stop the spread of the virus.
As the New York Post reported, the conservative One American News Network got in trouble after a reporter broke the rules by standing in the aisle of a briefing room on both Tuesday and Wednesday. The reporter, Chanel Rion, was asked to leave the room by a representative from the WHCA as she was not slated to attend that day, the report noted. Rion said she was there as a guest of White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, but the WHCA later took action to keep the outlet from attending.
The organization issued a statement on Wednesday evening saying that OANN would be banned 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 statement said.
"We do not take this action lightly. This is a matter of public safety."OANN had already gained a reputation as one of the friendliest news outlets for Trump, and its reporters have been known to toss easy or flattering questions his way during briefings. As Vox reported last year, the small news network has become one of Trump's favorites, frequently getting mentions on his Twitter feed.
"OANN's platform is nowhere near as large as Fox News — the network is available via DirecTV and Verizon's Fios but not most cable packages, and its ratings are reportedly beneath the Tennis Channel — but it is even more doggedly loyal to the president," the report noted. "Trump is increasingly taking notice."
While states across the country have put in place stringent rules against public gatherings and closed all non-essential businesses, the White House press corps has remained busy in covering the president's daily briefings on the spread of the coronavirus. The WHCA has taken steps to lower the risk of the virus being spread at these briefings by reducing the number of reporters who can attend and putting rules in place about where they can stay for the briefings.Trump has clashed with reporters a number of times at these daily briefings, including what critics saw as a racially charged exchange with PBS News reporter Yamiche Alcindor.