Garrison Keillor Axed From Minnesota Public Radio Over Impropriety Allegations

Jeff Baenen/AP

Garrison Keillor, the former host of the wildly popular public radio program “A Prarie Home Companion,” was axed Wednesday by Minnesota Public Radio over allegations of improper behavior.

MPR confirmed in a press release that it is terminating its contracts with Keillor and his media companies “after recently learning of allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him.”

The Associated Press said Keillor had told them of his firing in an email, and followed up by saying he was fired over “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.”

In an email to the Minnesota Star Tribune, Keillor said: “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. I sent her an email 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.”

In a statement shared with TPM, Minnesota Public Radio spokesperson Angie Andreson said: “Last month, MPR was notified of the allegations which relate to Mr. Keillor’s conduct while he was responsible for the production of A Prairie Home Companion (APHC).”

“MPR President Jon McTaggart immediately informed the MPR Board Chair, and a special Board committee was appointed to provide oversight and ongoing counsel,” the statement continued. “In addition, MPR retained an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation of the allegations. Based on what we currently know, there are no similar allegations involving other staff.”

“MPR takes these allegations seriously and we are committed to maintaining a safe, respectful and supportive work environment for all employees and everyone associated with MPR,” the statement said.

The AP noted that, though Keillor retired from his post at “A Prairie Home Companion” last year, he had continued producing “The Writer’s Almanac” for syndication.

MPR’s severing its relationships with Keillor will include changing “A Prarie Home Companion”’s name, according to MPR’s statement, in addition to ceasing distribution and broadcast of “The Writer’s Almanac” and ceasing rebroadcasts of old episodes of Keillor’s show.

Just Tuesday, Keillor wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that the idea of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) resigning over allegations of sexual harassment was “absurd.”

“On the flight home, in a spirit of low comedy, Al ogled Miss Tweeden and pretended to grab her and a picture was taken,” Keillor wrote, describing the first allegation made against Franken. “Eleven years later, a talk show host in LA, she goes public, and there is talk of resignation. This is pure absurdity, and the atrocity it leads to is a code of public deadliness. No kidding.”

An update to that op-ed added Wednesday, referring to the story of Keillor’s firing, that “The Post takes allegations of this kind seriously and is seeking more information about them.”

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK