New York (CNN Business)A fringe personality for a small right-wing media organization attended President Donald Trump’s coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday at the personal invitation of White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, a person familiar with the matter told CNN.
The personality, Chanel Rion of One America News, declined to leave the briefing, despite new social distancing guidelines from the White House Correspondents Association which restricted it to a limited number of journalists, the person familiar with the matter told CNN.
Rion, who has produced what amounts to pro-Trump propaganda for OAN, told a representative for the White House Correspondents Association that she was a “guest of Stephanie Grisham,” the White House press secretary, the person familiar with the exchange explained.
Rion added that the representative for the White House Correspondents Association could take up the matter with Grisham, the person familiar with the matter added.
The White House Correspondents Association, however, is the organization responsible for assigning seats at the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, not the White House press secretary.
The Los Angeles Times was first to report the interaction between Rion and the White House Correspondents Association representative.
Rion stood in the back of the back of the room at Tuesday’s coronavirus task force briefing. She was in attendance again on Wednesday, again standing in the back of the briefing room, and Trump called on her for a question.
Jon Karl, president of the White House Correspondents Association, told CNN that its members have agreed they “cannot be in the briefing room” if they “do not have a seat” assigned on a particular day.
“So a reporter standing in the back who does not have a seat on that day is violating those rules and putting the health of the press corps in danger,” Karl added.
Grisham declined to comment on the record. Rion did not respond to a request for comment.
One America News is a cable channel with small viewership that is strongly supportive of Trump, who has repeatedly lauded the outlet for being friendly toward him.
Rion is a far-right media personality with a history of peddling conspiracy theories.
Rion has pushed the discredited idea that slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered by the Clinton family.
In December, Rion traveled with Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, to Ukraine and advanced conspiracy theories that aimed to give Trump cover for asking the country to investigate former Vice President and Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden.
Most recently, Rion promoted the conspiracy theory that the novel coronavirus was potentially created in a North Carolina laboratory.
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