On May 13, 2013 a TV anchor posed some thoughts and questions on his social media page set up by the TV station. This isn't an unusual occurance as such things go. The TV anchor was great at generating a lot of hits and "likes" on the social media/Facebook page for the station. But this time, the head honchos did not like his query.
Like many in the mainstream media, Larry Conners, TV anchor for CBS affiliate in St. Louis, MO, was giving attention to the reports of the IRS targeting certain parties and individuals for audit, and/or denying tax-exempt status to such. (I remember reading the post as I am a "friend" on Facebook of Mr. Conners page. Or, former page, as the page has now been removed.*)
Mr. Conners clearly stated that he didn't believe in conspiracy theories. He also said that since he did an interview with President Obama where he asked some pointed questions that were not received well, the IRS has been "pressuring" him.
Various media outlets picked up the story and it spread like wildfire. Only the story had some incomplete additional information that led to some less than stellar conclussions by some who read their articles. Mr. Conners had omitted that he and his wife owed the IRS some back taxes. What the news article left out were the facts of the situation. They left open the innuendo that the Conners had not paid any taxes and were trying to get back at the IRS. In hindsight it would probably have been better had the St. Louis TV anchor given more details instead of trying to save some space.
The facts are this: the person the Conners hired to do their taxes had taken exemptions that were not allowed - for three years. The Conners and the IRS agreed to a re-payment schedule which Mr. Conners was following faithfully. After Mr. Conner's interview with the president, things suddenly changed. The IRS, from an office which operated out of Chicago, dropped the re-payment plan and immediately put a lien on the Conners' house and property without warning. The Conner's continued to make payments of the taxes they owed until advised by their attorney not to do so.
That, in and of itself, is something to question! But, to simplify his questions, Larry Conners did not delve into those specifics.
The day after the FB posting (and when the press at large began erroneously reporting the situation), the GM at KMOV handed Mr. Conners a type of apology to read on air. He was told to read it verbatim - he could not explain anything but just read what was written - which he did. That was his last newscast - as the following day Mr. Conners was suspended. Yesterday, he was fired. The reason given had to do with lack of credibility and journalistic integrity.
Personally, I feel the reasons were a) Mr. Conners is in his late 60's and the station wanted a way to get him off air as Mr. Conners did not fit any real demographic in their minds; and/or b) the literal relationship CBS has with the White House.
Yes, literal relationship. The president of CBS news is David Rhodes. David's brother, Ben Rhodes, is President Obama's deputy national security adviser for strategic communication. Ben Rhodes is also under scrutiny as being involved with the re-write of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice's "talking points" regarding Benghazi.
It appears as coincidence. However, when a CBS news anchor is fired after questioning if the IRS scandal could possibly be involved even in his situation - with the change with the IRS after interviewing President Obama - it seems to be a bit more than happenstance. When the president of CBS news is related to someone deep inside the President's "circle", it looks even more suspicious. When the news anchor is fired because of bringing it up....it's downright believable.
By CBS-TV KMOV firing Larry Conners because of credibility issues, they have drawn attention to the question of their own credibility.
It would seem to be prudent of the White House to cut it's ties with those who have the hands of family members in the cookie jars of the mainstream media. At the very least it would be a good move public relations-wise. That would give the public more of the "transparency" President Obama promised during his first campaign. Otherwise the scandals and the questions will continue to follow this president beyond this final term in office.
And Bob Woodward may have another scandal to break wide open.
*Larry Conners' Facebook posting that started it all: (bold text my emphasis)
"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."