On Tuesday we reported on KMOV-TV (Channel 4) anchor Larry Conners' controversial comments on his Facebook page pondering whether the IRS was targeting him in response to a critical interview he did with President Obama. Later that night -- after getting national attention for his comments -- he issued a short on-air statement admitting that he had issues with the IRS for several years prior to the Obama interview and saying his views were his own.
Now he is temporarily off the air. KMOV officials and Conners' attorney say it's not a suspension.
"He's dying to talk to everybody," Conners' attorney Merle Silverstein tells Daily RFT, "but until he gets released from this order of the station, he is barred from making any comment."
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Silverstein says Conners is not suspended, he's just temporarily off the air.
"He and I have been barred from making any comment," Silverstein reiterates.
Silverstein sent inquiring reporters a very brief letter making this clear, saying, "As the attorney for Larry Conners, I am constrained to advise you that he is barred by corporate from making statements, posting on Facebook, or participating in interviews on the IRS issue. That is the only reason for his silence."
But Mark Pimentel, the station's president and general manager, tells Daily RFT, "He certainly is free to speak to the press. He's always free to speak to the press."
Pimentel says there are certain areas where the station has advised Conners it'd be best not to speak out, but says, "That's between us and Larry."
Conners' brief comments on-air about the IRS Facebook post.
Pimentel says that he has been out of town and plans on meeting with Conners next week.
He also confirms that Conners is not suspended and is just temporarily off air -- and doesn't offer any details about when he might be returning.
Pimentel declined to comment on the original IRS comments that sparked this debate.
KMOV's news director Sean McLaughlin (who did not respond to Daily RFT's request for comment) tells the Post-Dispatch, "He's not suspended. We just all thought it made sense (for him) to take a few days off."
Here's a copy of Silverstein's letter.