Garrison Keillor, longtime host of the syndicated public radio variety show “A Prairie Home Companion,” said Wednesday he’s been fired by Minnesota Public Radio after accusations of inappropriate behavior.
Keillor, who retired from “A Prairie Home Companion” in 2016 but continued producing “The Writer’s Almanac” for syndication, confirmed his firing to The Associated Press, saying his removal was linked to “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.”
He told the Star Tribune the issue was an incident where he put his hand on a woman’s bare back accidentally. “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.”
“If I had a dollar for every woman who asked to take a selfie with me and who slipped an arm around me and let it drift down below the beltline, I’d have at least a hundred dollars. So this is poetic irony of a high order. But I’m just fine. I had a good long run and am grateful for it and for everything else,” he also told the outlet.
Minnesota Public Radio said in a statement released shortly after Keillor’s announcement that it decided to terminate his contracts and his private media companies after someone who worked with him on “A Prairie Home Companion” came forward last month. MPR said it hired lawyers to investigate the allegations.
“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,” the network’s 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.”
Keillor’s firing ends the distribution and broadcasting of the literary and poetry radio show “The Writer’s Almanac,” and all rebroadcasts of “The Best of A Prairie Home Companion,” hosted by Keillor.
In a statement on his personal website, Keillor apologized to “all the poets whose work I won’t be reading on the radio” and to “the people who will lose work on account of this.” He did not mention the woman who made the complaint.
The current iteration of “A Prairie Home Companion,” hosted by Keillor’s successor, Chris Thile, will be renamed, MPR said. The network said it will also end its relationship with two websites associated with Keillor: the Pretty Good Goods online catalog, and the PrairieHome.org website.
Keillor is among dozens of men who have been accused of sexual harassment recent weeks. He recently penned an op-ed after Leanne Tweeden accused Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) of forcibly kissing her and groping her without her consent, saying the notion Franken should resign was “absurd.”
In an email to MPR’s news boss Wednesday afternoon, Keillor wrote, “I think the country is in the grip of a mania — the whole Franken business is an absurdity — and I wish someone [would] resist it, but I expect MPR to look out for itself, and meanwhile I feel awfully lucky to have hung on for so long.”