Though Fox News remains the most dominant source of conservative news in the United States, One America News Network is a major rising star in the sector. That is in part because the network has embraced President Donald Trump – and his conspiratorial views – to a degree even Fox hasn’t. As a result, they have been dubbed “Trump’s favorite network” by other press outlets.
Currently, the most important figures at OAN (alternatively OANN) are Charles Herring, the network’s president, and Chanel Rion, OAN’s chief White House correspondent and most prominent on-air reporter.
Herring, alongside his father, launched the network as an alternative to Fox News, with the goal of featuring even further right-leaning views. In Rion, the network not only has a reporter who pushes the coverage rightward but a budding star in the Trump-aligned conservative mediascape.
Who is Charles Herring?
Though the network only launched in 2013, its influence in the conservative sphere has been noticeable. That is undoubtedly thanks to the stewardship of Charles Herring, also the president of Herring Broadcasting, which was founded by his father, Robert Herring. Together, father and son realized in 2017 the wisdom in allying their network to Trump.
As reported by The Washington Post, the network has aimed to “push Trump’s candidacy, scuttle stories about police shootings, encourage anti-abortion stories, minimize coverage of Russian aggression, and steer away from the new president’s troubles.”
The elder Herring grew up in Rayville, Louisville but moved his family to California in 1948. Charles has spent his life there, studying at the University of California, Berkley, then briefly worked in the tech industry before joining the San Diego-based Herring Networks in October 2003. Since then, he has spent his career with the family business.
In an interview shortly before OAN launched, Charles spoke to The Daily Beast about why a second conservative network was needed besides Fox:
“With only one outlet, if you happen to be an independent or a libertarian, or you are on the outside, you only have one platform right now, which is Fox. There just isn’t enough time in the day to have those voices heard. I see us as opening up another front, another platform.”
At the time of its launch, OAN’s tagline was “Your Nation, Your News.” By 2016, the network was using “Your Source for Credible News.” In 2017, it promised “straight news, no opinion.” OAN’s branding may have been in flux, but by the beginning of Trump’s presidency, their focus was clear.
Who is Chanel Rion?
When Trump entered the White House, so did OAN. The network’s original White House reporter was Trey Yingst, now a foreign correspondent for Fox. Trump called on Yingst regularly during the press briefings in his first 100 days in office. While Yingst’s tenure was notable for his youth and willingness to ask some tough questions, he didn’t raise OAN’s profile all that much.
His successor, Chanel Rion, by contrast, has made a noticeable impact in the White House briefing room, simultaneously boosting her network’s ratings and earning ire from colleagues in the media.
In her short time in the role, she has used her questions to criticize the “major left-wing news media” and been temporarily expelled from the briefing room for not following the White House Correspondents’ Association’s COVID-19 social distancing rules (she was later readmitted by the White House).
On her website, the Texas-born Rion describes herself as an “American author, political illustrator, and White House Political Correspondent for One America News Network.” She says she was mostly home-schooled, never “set[ting] foot in a school until university.”
Rion says she spent years in France and South Korea (her mother is Korean) in her youth, partially to escape the “socialism” of President Bill Clinton. She further describes herself as “a fierce foe of anything Clinton, of everything Obama, and as a total and unrelenting enemy of academic left-liberalism and political correctness anywhere.”
Rion is also the creator of Wordebys, a site dedicated to preserving “artful language” by “collect[ing] and protect[ing] fine specimens of language against a backdrop of civilization’s great artists, old and new.”
Her political cartoons, entitled “The Left Edge,” include multiple anti-immigrant and pro-Trump illustrations. She also frequently attacks former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and RINOs (“Republicans In Name Only”), including multiple cartoons critical of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Chanel Rion’s past
In April, the Daily Mail, a British tabloid, published a piece on Rion that included numerous accusations about her and her father.
Before getting her pass to be a permanent White House correspondent, Rion changed her surname from Dayn-Ryan, which the publication claimed was “courtesy of one of her father’s multiple identities.”
The tabloid states Rion’s father was actually Danny Preboth, the son of Kansas-based Allene Cunningham, who became nationally-known as the “First Lady of Broadcast Psychic Counseling.” Preboth allegedly changed his name multiple times due to being sued for investment fraud.
Rion, who has not publicly spoken about her psychic grandmother, defended her father to the Daily Mail, saying he was falsely accused by “malicious lunatics.”
Despite her claims of having moved around internationally, her fiancé, failed Missouri Congressional candidate, Courtland Sykes, said Rion “did most of her growing up” in Missouri. The Daily Mail also reported Rion has said she attended Harvard University, when in fact she attended Harvard Extension School, a degree-granting school of Harvard with less strenuous admittance requirements.
Regardless of what parts of her back story are true, she has established herself as one of Trump’s favorite reporters in White House press briefings, advocating for pro-Trump conspiracy theories like Obamagate.
The president recently granted Rion a one-on-one interview in which she stated the Trump administration had been “incredibly open to the press” and claimed, “we’re watching Joe Biden slip very gently into senility while you’re at the top of your game.”
She also asked if Trump thought the “attacks against him” from the briefing room were “organic questions” or if “these ‘journalists’ are afraid they might lose their jobs if they don’t attack you the way they do every day?”
Trump concurred that journalists were being instructed to attack him.
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