On a day when just-fired NBC host Matt Lauer is getting hit with numerous accusations of disgusting sexual misconduct at work, Garrison Keillor’s own dismissal over an allegation of inappropriate behavior is getting a lot less attention. But after saying early Wednesday that he’s too old to fight the accusation, the 75-year-old former host of “A Prairie Home Companion” decided to hit back in a statement to a local newspaper.
Earlier, Keillor had referenced a particular story that came out that got him fired from Minneapolis Public Radio, effectively destroying his semi-retirement-era “The Writer’s Almanac” syndicated radio show. But in an e-mail to the Minneapolis StarTribune, he decided to tell his side of that story.
"I put my hand on a woman's bare back,” Keillor explained. “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.”
He continued, “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.”
“Anyone who ever was around my show can tell you that I was the least physically affectionate person in the building. Actors hug, musicians hug, people were embracing every Saturday night left and right, and I stood off in the corner like a stone statue,” Keillor added.
His anger and frustration were palpable.
"Getting fired is a real distinction in broadcasting and I've waited fifty years for the honor. All of my heroes got fired. I only wish it could've been for something more heroic," he joked sardonically before turning on the many women he says have touched him inappropriately over the years.
“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,” he shot back. “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.”
In their statement about his firing, Minnesota Public Radio only referenced Keillor’s behavior with that one female colleague and did not indicate if more than one incident occurred. They also did not give their side of the story on what Keillor allegedly did.
They are, however, quickly disassociating themselves from anything with Keillor’s name attached to it. They’ll be renaming “A Prairie Home Companion,” which has been hosted by musician Chris Thile since Keillor’s 2016 retirement. They will not be rebroadcasting any of the shows Keillor has hosted since he began in 1974. They will also be detaching themselves from any Keillor-owned products, including the PrairieHome.org website.
Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” was widely listened to for over forty years as he regaled his nationwide radio audience — as well as live audiences — with stories surrounding Midwest culture. Interestingly enough, Keillor had an opinion piece posted in the Washington Post about how Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) should not resign over his documented sexual misbehavior and allegations of misconduct.
"This is pure absurdity, and the atrocity it leads to is a code of public deadliness. No kidding," Keillor wrote, dismissing the photo of Franken placing his hands over a sleeping female reporter's breasts as "low comedy."
What do you think about all of this? In other news, Kathie Lee Gifford has a very different response to the numerous accusations of sexual misconduct that just hit her former colleague Matt Lauer.