During the election of 2016, I used to read Garrison Keillor’s columns and essays about Donald Trump. I think I even linked to them and quoted them a few times here. I like the way Keillor writes, and I grew up in an NPR family, and I can remember vividly that my mom and dad loved to listen to Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. I guess all of that is in the past now, because Garrison Keillor is like every other dude with a serious case of toxic masculinity. Keillor has been fired from Minnesota Public Radio after some allegations of sexual harassment were made against him by a coworker.
Garrison Keillor, the creator and former host of A Prairie Home Companion, has been accused of inappropriate behavior with someone who worked with him, according to Minnesota Public Radio, which has announced it is cutting ties with Keillor and his production company. In a statement released Wednesday, the NPR member station says it learned of the allegations in October and has retained an outside law firm to investigate them. That investigation is ongoing.
Keillor, 75, no longer hosts A Prairie Home Companion, the show indelibly tied to his name. But he continues to produce The Writer’s Almanac. Both shows are widely carried by public radio stations across the country. MPR says in its statement that the station and its owner, American Public Media, will no longer distribute Writer’s Almanac and will stop rebroadcasting The Best Of A Prairie Home Companion. In addition, new episodes of A Prairie Home Companion — now hosted by Chris Thile — will be given a new name.
The allegations “relate to Mr. Keillor’s conduct while he was responsible for the production of A Prairie Home Companion,” MPR says. “Based on what we currently know, there are no similar allegations involving other staff.”
Keillor told The Associated Press that MPR cut ties with him over “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.” The radio personality later told the Star Tribune that he was not, in general, physically demonstrative, and that the incident that led to his firing involved touching a woman’s bare skin. “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,” he said. “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,” Keillor later said.
On Tuesday, The Washington Post published an opinion column by Keillor in which he defended Sen. Al Franken, accused of forcibly kissing a radio host and groping another woman during a photo, against calls for his resignation.
“On the flight home, in a spirit of low comedy, Al ogled Miss [Leeann] Tweeden and pretended to grab her and a picture was taken. 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,” Keillor wrote. “No kidding.”
Yet another giant falls. Keillor was, like Al Franken, a progressive icon to many, a voice of sanity, humor, homespun wisdom and weirdness. And it’s all gone now. The statements he gave to the Star Tribune about being groped by female fans is one of the strangest #MeToo stories ever – it’s not that I don’t believe that some fans have gotten handsy with him over the years, it’s that he thinks that’s some kind of cosmic justification for groping a coworker. Oh, and he has a history of saying and thinking terrible things about sexual harassment too – in 1994, he said in a speech, “A world in which there is no sexual harassment at all is a world in which there will not be any flirtation.” Burn it all to the ground.
Photos courtesy of Getty.