Yesterday, KMOV-TV (Channel 4)'s Larry Conners made quite a splash when he speculated on his Facebook page whether the Internal Revenue Service may have targeted him in response to his interview with Barack Obama last year. Our original coverage is below. Since his post got national attention, Conners went on air to address the controversy -- and offer a pretty surprising disclosure.
His issues with the IRS, he announced, "preceded that interview by several years."
And, he emphasized, his views are his own, not that of his company.
Watch his full statement below.
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Conners was already getting quite a lot of attention for his remarks -- in the wake of growing controversy around the IRS's targeting of conservative groups -- but his disclosure yesterday changes the story quite a bit.
First off, the central premise of his Facebook post was that he did a tough interview with the president last year -- one which, he claimed, the White House didn't seem to like. And after that, the IRS "started hammering" him. The fact that he actually had issues with the IRS for several years prior certainly is, at the very least, relevant to note.The disclosure earned him some mocking on Twitter yesterday.
Larry Conners admits his problems with IRS preceded his Obama interview by "several years." This is beyond absurd. bit.ly/18Jw67u— caitlin legacki (@caitleg) May 15, 2013
Conners also admitted that he may have "unintentionally" crossed a line as a journalist, when he interjected a personal matter into a national news story, which some said is an important question to address:
h/t to KMOV bosses for walking back a veteran anchor's interjection of himself into the news. RT kmov.com/video/featured...— Richard Callow (@publiceyestl) May 15, 2013
Conners does still have support from conservative radio host Dana Loesch, who was very vocal about the issue yesterday and argued that it was still a legitimate story because the IRS targeting did intensify after the Obama interview. She also alleged that, according to her knowledgeable source, Conners didn't write his own statement and was forced to read it.
Larry Conners said IRS troubles intensified AFTER Obama interview. Was forced to backtrack. danaloeschradio.com/exclusive-sour...— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) May 15, 2013
We've left a message with KMOV yesterday and have not heard back. We'll update if we do.
At the same time, Conners' parent company came down pretty hard yesterday, saying his Facebook and Twitter posts were inappropriate and that the company does not condone "personal posts that jeopardize the journalistic nature of our business."
Continue for our original coverage and for the full Facebook message.
Original post, Tuesday, May 14, 12:48 p.m.: "KMOV-TV's Larry Conners Says IRS May Have Targeted Him After 2012 Obama Interview"
Did the Internal Revenue Service target KMOV-TV (Channel 4) Anchorman Larry Conners in response to an interview he did with President Obama?
Conners has raised the question on his Facebook page with a long post pondering whether the IRS -- which is embroiled in controversy this week -- may have gone after him because of a critical interview he did with the president.
"Shortly after I did my April 2012 interview with President Obama, my wife, friends and some viewers suggested that I might need to watch out for the IRS," Conners writes. "I don't accept 'conspiracy theories', but I do know that almost immediately after the interview, the IRS started hammering me."
This week, the IRS is facing widespread backlash for apparently targeting conservative groups, such as Tea Party organizations, sparking criticism from Republicans and Democrats, including U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, who called for IRS firings yesterday.
At the same time, the Obama administration is also facing heat over reports that the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of Associated Press reporters -- as part of an investigation that those in the media and beyond are now widely slamming.
Enter Conners, who thinks it's quite likely he could be a target.
What I don't like to even consider ... is that because of the Obama interview ... the IRS put a target on me. Can I prove it? At this time, no. But it is a fact that since that April 2012 interview ... the IRS has been pressuring me.
Daily RFT left a message with KMOV's news director to see if the station or Conners had more details to offer on how the IRS may have targeted him and we'll update if we hear back.Conners is pushing the question on Twitter, too:
In his Facebook post, Conners doesn't offer a whole lot of details on the IRS pressure he has faced other than to say the agency did start to hammer him after the interview.
He also makes a point of painting his interview as a tough one, noting that the president's "staff which had been so polite ... suddenly went cold."
He brags, "The Obama interview caught fire and got wide-spread attention because I questioned his spending."
Here's a clip of that interview.
And his full post:
Shortly after I did my April 2012 interview with President Obama, my wife, friends and some viewers suggested that I might need to watch out for the IRS. I don't accept "conspiracy theories", but I do know that almost immediately after the interview, the IRS started hammering me. At the time, I dismissed the "co-incidence", but now, I have concerns ... after revelations about the IRS targeting various groups and their members. Originally, the IRS apologized for red-flagging conservative groups and their members if they had "Tea Party" or "patriot" in their name. Today, there are allegations that the IRS focused on various groups and/or individuals questioning or criticizing government spending, taxes, debt or how the government is run ... any involved in limiting/expanding government, educating on the constitution and bill of rights, or social economic reform/movement. In that April 2012 interview, I questioned President Obama on several topics: the Buffet Rule, his public remarks about the Supreme Court before the ruling on the Affordable Care Act. I also asked why he wasn't doing more to help Sen. Claire McCaskill who at that time was expected to lose. The Obama interview caught fire and got wide-spread attention because I questioned his spending. I said some viewers expressed concern, saying they think he's "out of touch" because of his personal and family trips in the midst of our economic crisis. The President's face clearly showed his anger; afterwards, his staff which had been so polite ... suddenly went cold. That's to be expected, and I can deal with that just as I did with President George H. Bush's staff when he didn't like my questions. Journalistic integrity is of the utmost importance to me. My job is to ask the hard questions, because I believe viewers have a right to be well-informed. I cannot and will not promote anyone's agenda - political or otherwise - at the expense of the reporting the truth. What I don't like to even consider ... is that because of the Obama interview ... the IRS put a target on me. Can I prove it? At this time, no. But it is a fact that since that April 2012 interview ... the IRS has been pressuring me.