Nov. 29 (UPI) — Garrison Keillor was fired Wednesday following allegations of “inappropriate behavior.”
Minnesota Public Radio said in a statement that it terminated its contracts with the 75-year-old radio personality and his media companies after learning of his alleged conduct on A Prairie Home Companion.
MPR said it was notified in October about an alleged incident involving Keillor while he was responsible for the production of A Prairie Home Companion. The star retired as host from the long-running public radio variety show in 2016.
Keillor is accused of “inappropriate behavior” with “an individual” who worked with him. MPR said there are presently no similar allegations involving other staff.
MPR is conducting an ongoing investigation of the allegations. The station, along with American Public Media, will end distribution and broadcast of The Writer’s Almanac and rebroadcasts of The Best of A Prairie Home Companion, and change the name of APM’s weekly music and variety program hosted by Chris Thile.
“Garrison Keillor has been an important part of the growth and success of MPR, and all of us in the MPR community are saddened by these circumstances,” MPR president Jon McTaggart said.
“While we appreciate the contributions Garrison has made to MPR and to all of public radio, we believe this decision is the right thing to do and is necessary to continue to earn the trust of our audiences, employees and supporters of our public service,” he added.
Keillor said Wednesday in an e-mail to the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the alleged incident involved him touching “a woman’s bare back.”
“I put my hand on a woman’s bare back. I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized,” the star said. “I sent her an e-mail of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”
“Getting fired is a real distinction in broadcasting and I’ve waited fifty years for the honor,” he appeared to joke. “All of my heroes got fired. I only wish it could’ve been for something more heroic.”
Keillor had penned an op-ed for The Denver Post titled “The absurdity of judging past actions by present standards” published Tuesday prior to news of the allegations. He commented on Senator Al Franken, who who apologized this month after being accused of kissing and groping television personality Leeann Tweeden during a USO tour in 2006.
“Miss Tweeden knew what the game was and played her role and on the flight home, in a spirit of low comedy, Al ogled her and pretended to grab her and a picture was taken,” Keillor wrote.
“Eleven years layer, a talk show host in L.A., she goes public with her embarrassment, and there is talk of resignation,” he said. “This is pure absurdity and the atrocity it leads to is a code of public deadliness. No kidding.”