One America News correspondent and conspiracy theorist Chanel Rion appeared on a QAnon program last month and lent credence to the QAnon conspiracy theory, stating that its central figure “is Q anonymous for a reason, for a very good reason, and I think that people need to respect that.” One of Rion’s colleagues, OAN correspondent Jenn Pellegrino, also said last month that “a lot of people that I know, including people in our office, have mentioned” QAnon “quite a bit."
Rion is the chief White House correspondent for One America News, an avowedly pro-Trump network that has been repeatedly praised by the president. In recent months, she has become infamous for serving as a source of softball questions during White House press briefings.
Rion has also used her OAN platform to forward pro-Trump conspiracy theories. In March, for instance, she pushed the absurd conspiracy theory that the coronavirus was created in a North Carolina laboratory. That claim originated from “Greg Rubini,” a conspiracy theorist and QAnon supporter (BuzzFeed News later reported that he is a fraud whose real name is Greg Palusa).
QAnon is a violence-linked conspiracy theory based on cryptic posts to online message boards from an anonymous user known as “Q" that have spread rampantly on social media and among fringe right-wing media. QAnon conspiracy theorists essentially believe that President Donald Trump is secretly working to take down the purported “deep state,” a supposed cabal of high-ranking officials who they claim are operating pedophile rings.
While at the North Lawn of the White House, Rion appeared on the June 9 broadcast of the Patriots’ Soapbox program The Common Sense Show. NBC News wrote in August 2018 that the Patriots’ Soapbox network is “a round-the-clock livestreamed YouTube channel for Qanon study and discussion. The channel is, in effect, a broadcast of a Discord chatroom with constant audio commentary from a rotating cast of volunteers and moderators.”
Toward the conclusion of the interview, co-host Derik Vance -- a QAnon supporter whose Twitter account features the QAnon slogan and a picture of him with Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale -- inquired if Rion could ask White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany “the Q question”:
DERIK VANCE (CO-HOST): I don't know how closely you follow this but I have a lot of people who were asking me to ask you if you do get the opportunity to ask Kayleigh a question next press briefing courtesy of the Patriots’ Soapbox, would you ask the Q question?
CHANEL RION (OAN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT): You mean who is Q?
RION: I have no comment on Q or Q's identity. But, you know, this is something that, you know, Q -- Q is Q anonymous for a reason, for a very good reason, and I think that people need to respect that and if, you know, that's something that needs to be brought up by Q if he wants us -- if they want to stay anonymous, they should stay anonymous, and if they want to reveal themselves, they should reveal themselves.
VANCE: I can highly respect that answer.
Following the interview, Rion retweeted a Patriots’ Soapbox tweet about her Q answer which also had the QAnon hashtag “#WWG1WGA.”
In February, a QAnon supporter talked about the QAnon slogan with McEnany, who was the Trump campaign's press secretary at the time, and said that he wished he could ask the president “who is Q?” McEnany replied that she would “pass all of this along.”
Jenn Pellegrino, who is also a White House correspondent for OAN, appeared on the program on June 24 and was asked if she was familiar with QAnon. Pellegrino said: “I actually wasn’t too in tune with it for a while. I didn’t really know much about it but I’ve seen a lot of my followers, a lot of people that I know, including people in our office, have mentioned it quite a bit, so I can’t say that I’m too educated on Q. But I know there’s a massive following there.” She added that she would brush up on QAnon.
Rion has also retweeted a post from writer and QAnon conspiracy theorist Michael Salla which claimed that former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn taking the QAnon oath means that “Flynn is telling us Q is the real deal and he is a supporter. So much for critics claiming Q is a LARP,” or live action role-playing game. (Flynn, who is a QAnon supporter, is an integral figure to the conspiracy theory.)
Trump campaign official Erin Perrine appeared on the Patriots’ Soapbox last year to promote the president’s reelection campaign and recruit volunteers. The conspiracy theory has been making its way into facets of Republican politics, including dozens of congressional candidates; Republican Party organizations; and Trump’s own Twitter account.