Larry Conners Talks KMOV-TV Firing, Defends IRS Facebook Post, Journalistic Integrity
Yesterday, KMOV-TV (Channel 4) fired veteran news anchor Larry Conners, one week after he wrote a controversial Facebook post pondering whether the IRS had targeted him in response to a tough interview he did with President Obama in 2012.
In the announcement of his termination, KMOV said he violated the station's journalistic standards by "taking a personal political position."
Conners, in an interview with Daily RFT this morning, argues that he did not take any personal position, but simply raised a question. Further, he says, his bosses have made him look like a criminal in their handling of this controversy.
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As a quick recap, the Facebook post that sparked the whole debate -- now down, but the text of which is on view below -- speculated whether the IRS went after him specifically in response to an April 2012 interview with Obama in which, Conners said, he asked particularly critical questions.
Later that night, Conners made a short on-air statement that wasn't quite an apology, but made clear his views were his own. He also disclosed that he had had issues with the IRS several years prior to the 2012 interview. He was then taken off air temporarily and officially fired yesterday.
Conners' brief on-air comments about the Facebook post last week.
Today, Conners says that he never directly alleged that the IRS was targeting him because of the interview, but rather considered the possibility, given the national scandal around the IRS's intense scrutiny of conservative groups.
"They say that I took a position on the IRS. I did not take a position," Conners tells Daily RFT. "I raised the question."
He also notes that there is a lot of pressure at KMOV to drive traffic through these Facebook pages and says that he was repeatedly praised internally for his social media presence -- which at times has involved more personal posts.
"It's a new platform," he says. "They want you to do personal, engaging stuff...but if it gets too hot, I guess they say no."
Conners, who has been in the business for 50 years, says, "It's always been my goal to be the best unbiased reporter I can be."
In Facebook posts about the Boston bombers and other national stories, he has sometimes gotten personal and perhaps less neutral than he would be on air -- but he never heard any complaints from his bosses, Conners says.
Regarding the IRS, he says he does not know for sure if he was targeted because of the Obama segment, but says that his issues with the agency clearly escalated after the 2012 interview.
"My trouble started after the interview," he says. "The timeline is very simple."
Continue for more of our interview with Larry Conners.