Who is Chanel Rion?
Who is Chanel Rion?
The story of a key figure in the White House briefing room during the coronavirus has some interesting twists.
Rion joined OAN in May 2019, assigned to the White House.
Rion was born as “Chanel Ryan” in Texas. Her mother is South Korean and she was homeschooled before graduating from Harvard with a degree in international relations.
She also lived in Missouri, South Korea and France. Her website bio says the family moved overseas after former President Bill Clinton’s election in 1996, spurred by their marked disagreement with his politics.
She eventually changed the styling of her last name to “Rion.” Changing the spelling of names — or changing names altogether — is not uncommon among TV personalities across the media world. Some personalities change their names to “sound better” on air or even be more unique, as Rion appears to have done.
Back at Harvard, she met her now fiancée, Courtland Sykes, at a CIA recruitment event, according to Heavy reporting.
Sykes is a former Missouri senatorial candidate who has also said, in a public statement, that he wants to come home to a “home cooked dinner every night at six.” The statement continued by him stating he expects this meal to be prepared by his female partner and mentioned his goal of having daughters who group up to be “traditional homemakers.”
Rion also works as a political caricaturist, often peddling conspiracy theories. Past drawings have tackled “Pizzagate” and floated theories that Hillary Clinton killed DNC staffer Seth Rich, notes Heavy.
In October 2019, Rion and OAN claimed that ex-FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe and a former FBI lawyer had an affair. The report was eventually discredited and OAN retracted the story.
During the coronavirus outbreak, Rion hosted a special on OAN titled “Exposing China’s Coronavirus: The Fears, The Lies and The Unknown.”
She also referred to coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” — a phrase viewed as racist or xenophobic by some and widely popularized by Donald Trump.
Rion’s on camera performance has been judged by some as amateurish at best — and her journalism skills are frequently called into question given her background of floating conspiracy theories and poorly sourced material.
That hasn’t stopped her from getting the attention of the Trump White House.
She’s frequently called up at briefings where she asks what many view as “softball” questions — or, on occasion, mixes in a dose of conspiracy theories about foreign powers and media outlets, as part of her questions.
She ran afoul with the White House Correspondents Association in late March and early April 2020, who eventually voted to ban an unnamed person (later widely reported to be Rion) from the briefing room.
Rion was accused of being present in the room on days she was not scheduled to be there according to a WHCA rotation set up to enforce social distancing guidelines but that also reduced the capacity of the press room to 14.
Both she and OAN would eventually claim she was there on personal invitation of Stephanie Grisham, the press secretary.
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