SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- A television reporter fired over his 'rude' questioning of President Bush during a drug summit news conference complained Saturday that he was dismissed for exercising his free speech.
Brian Karem, cleaning out his desk, said KMOL-TV News Director Ron Harig told him that he was 'rude and that I shouldn't have questioned the president of the United States like that,' referring to the Thursday news conference.
Karem, 30, said Harig called him at home Friday and told him to take the day off and was informed later in the day that he was being dismissed.
He said the station's decision to fire him is in sharp contrast to its support for him when he was jailed in 1990 for refusing to reveal the identity of a confidential news source.
'What amazes me is that two years ago the station spent $100,000 to defend my free speech and yesterday they fired me for exercising my free speech,' Karem said.
He said a letter from KMOL Managing Editor Forrest Carr characterized his behavior as a 'serious violation of protocol.'
'You were personally rude, offensive and self-serving,' Karem said the letter stated. 'You came off looking like a jerk and a twerp.'
The situation is not the first problem the station has had with Karem's style, said News Director Ron Harig.
'He didn't handle himself well in this situation and he has not handled himself well in other situations,' Harig said. 'It was not an isolated incident.'
Despite the firing, Karem said he has no ill feelings toward his bosses or the station.
'I've got a pregnant wife,' he said. His wife, Pam, is six months along with their second child. 'That's my only concern right now.'
On June 27, 1990, Karem was sentenced to a six-month jail term for contempt of court after he refused to reveal the names of three sources who helped set up a 1989 interview between Karem and a suspect in a capital murder case.
Karem was freed 13 days later after he released his notes and confirmed a California woman was a third source who helped arrange the interview.