Garrison Keillor, a former Minnesota Public Radio host, denounced the head of MPR and said his accuser “was a friend” in a statement denying recent harassment allegations against him.
Keillor wrote his statement in response to MPR president Jon McTaggart’s letter to listeners. In his letter, McTaggart explains why MPR cut ties with Keillor and answered questions sent to the station in response to his firing, including ones accusing MPR of tarnishing Keillor’s reputation.
“Listeners smelled a rat,” Keillor wrote in his statement, which was sent to HuffPost and published on his website. “Listeners know me far better than MPR management does and they know I’m not abusive.”
MPR fired Keillor in November and launched an investigation after a woman who worked on his show, “A Prairie Home Companion,” accused him of acting inappropriately. Keillor later told Minnesota’s Star Tribune that the claim stemmed from an incident in which he “accidentally” put his hand on the woman’s bare back.
In his statement, Keillor accused MPR’s management ― which he referred to as “McTaggart” and “his committee of faceless people who are in a panic” ― of failing to meet with him in person to talk about the accusations. If they had done so, Keillor wrote, “this all would’ve been avoided.”
Keillor also claimed his accuser was “a friend” who was employed by him, not by MPR, and worked from home as a freelance researcher. He also accused her of signing off on her emails by writing, “I love you.”
“Our friendship ― which was mutual, reciprocal and respectful ― continued in frequent emails about our kids and travel and family things that continued to my last show and beyond,” Keillor wrote.
“She signed her emails ‘I love you’ and she asked if her daughter could be hired to work here, and so forth,” he added.
This week, MPR News published an investigative report on Keillor that suggested the host did far more than place his hand on a woman’s back.
The report claims Keillor wrote and displayed a suggestive poem about an employee in his bookstore, sent $16,000 and a confidentiality agreement to a subordinate he was romantically involved with, and told a 21-year-old student in his writing class that he was intensely attracted to her. It also revealed a 1998 lawsuit filed against MPR by a former employee who claimed Keillor discriminated against her based on her age and gender.
The report did not include information on the incident which resulted in MPR firing Keillor.
In his statement, Keillor called the woman’s complaint “a highly selective and imaginative piece of work” and said he would write of this experience in a novel.
“If I am guilty of harassment, then every employee who stole a pencil is guilty of embezzlement,” Keillor wrote. “I’m an honest fiction writer and I will tell this story in a novel.”