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KMOV's Conners off the air until further notice after IRS flap

KMOV's Conners off the air until further notice after IRS flap

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Longtime KMOV (Channel 4) anchorman Larry Conners is “off the air” until further notice.

The station is examining Conners’ recent allegations that he was targeted by the Internal Revenue Service after interviewing President Barack Obama.

“He’s not suspended. We just all thought it made sense (for him) to take a few days off,” news director Sean McLaughlin said Thursday.

“We take this very seriously, and we don’t expect this to drag on. We’re still looking into the situation and weighing our options,” he said.

The situation arose Monday night with a post from Conners on his Facebook page. In that post, Conners said he had been getting “pressure” from the IRS after the Obama interview in April 2012.

The Facebook post begins: “I don’t accept ‘conspiracy theories,’ but I do know that almost immediately after the interview, the IRS started hammering me.”

In conclusion, Conners wrote: “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.”

Obama recently booted the acting IRS director because of allegations that the Internal Revenue Service has targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny when applying for nonprofit status.

On Tuesday — in a televised statement near the end of KMOV’s 5 p.m. newscast — Conners backed off that initial claim.

“To be fair, I should disclose that my issues with the IRS preceded that interview (with Obama) by several years,” Conners said Tuesday in the 35-second statement.

St. Louis County records show that a federal tax lien has been placed on Conners’ property in Clayton. The lien claims that Connerses and his wife, Janet L. Conners, owe more than $85,000 in “small business/self employed” taxes.

The lien, filed Sept. 20 in Chicago and then recorded in St. Louis County on Oct. 4, specifically alleges that the Conners owe the government $7,793 from 2008, $38,482 from 2009 and $39,508 from 2010.

Conners concluded his televised statement by saying he respects the importance of journalists keeping personal issues separate from professional ones.

“Those lines might have been unintentionally crossed by my post” on Facebook, he said.

Michael Valentine, vice president of content for Belo Corp., KMOV’s parent company, told the news website BuzzFeed that Conners “owes a duty to our viewers to report in an unbiased manner.”

“His Facebook post and his Twitter posts, as a result, were inappropriate,” he said. “And we don’t condone personal posts that jeopardize the journalistic nature of our business. It’s really that simple.”

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