St. Louis Anchor Speaks for First Time Since Being Fired

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As FTVLive told you yesterday, KMOV in St. Louis has parted ways with longtime Anchor Larry Connors.

Connors was canned after he went on Facebook and suggested that he was a target of the IRS after his sit down interview with President Obama.

Connors then admitted that his IRS trouble started well before that interview.

Connors was then pulled from the air and yesterday the station announced he was fired.

Now, Connors is no longer gagged by the station and he is trying to tell his side of the story.

About the possibility of an Internal Revenue Service vendetta in the wake of national stories about the agency.

"I never said that's what happened, and I'm still not saying it," Conners said. "I'm only asking that question."

Conners also said a televised statement he made about the situation last week — which he conceded damaged his position — was forced on him to read "as-is."

The IRS claims Conners and his wife, Janet L. Conners, owe more than $85,000 from 2008, 2009 and 2010. He was on a payment plan with the IRS, he told the Post-Dispatch. But after the Obama interview, Conners said the plan was cancelled and in September a lien was placed on their Clayton home. The IRS declined to comment.

Conners' Facebook implication that he may have been targeted by the IRS came as political controversy swirled around the agency's targeting of conservative groups that were applying for nonprofit status. The Justice Department has launched a criminal probe into IRS practices, saying it is looking into potential civil rights violations, and the controversy has been the subject of pointed questioning in Congressional hearings.

Pimentel said Conners' dismissal was necessary because his comments put the station in a difficult position when reporting on IRS stories.

"The current IRS controversy is of serious importance for journalists to report," Pimentel said. "And it becomes very difficult for us to produce a newscast where you have someone (reporting IRS-related news) who could at least seem to be biased."

Pimentel also said Conners' actions would have caused problems if he had been called on to report on the Obama administration.

"Larry is certainly entitled to his opinion, but taking a personal political position on one of the station’s Facebook pages creates an appearance of bias that is inconsistent with important journalistic standards," Pimentel's statement said.

Pimentel said he informed KMOV staff of Conners' firing shortly before releasing the statement.

"Larry is a respected journalist. A lot of people here, they worked side-by-side with him on elections and breaking stories and severe weather," Pimentel said. "This is not a happy day here."

H/T St. Louis Post Dispatch