Garrison Keillor: Radio Host Fired, Accused of Misconduct
Do the names Lake Wobegon or Prairie Home Companion sound familiar to you? Well, Garrison Keillor is the man who created that long-running series.
And Keillor is now the very latest to be exposed for alleged sexual misconduct. In fact, he’s been fired.
Interestingly, it was Keillor himself who made certain that the news became public. And he claims that there’s more to the story.
Garrison Keillor is a radio host, author, and voice actor whose work is widely recognized.
In an email sent to the Associated Press, he makes it known that he has been fired from Minnesota Public Radio, where he has worked for nearly 50 years.
“I’ve been fired over a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version M.P.R. heard. Most stories are.”
That line is the most widely circulated from the email, but there was more:
He refers to it as “poetic irony to be knocked off the air by a story, having told so many of them myself.”
That’s a very colorful description, and even a charming one.
(We don’t know if it’s appropriate, given the circumstances and subject matter, for him to wax poetic)
Still, he says that he doesn’t intend to fight to keep his job.
“But I’m 75 and don’t have any interest in arguing about this. And I cannot in conscience bring danger to a great organization I’ve worked hard for since 1969.”
He did not go into any detail in that letter. But that doesn’t mean that he’s kept mum about the whole thing.
In an email to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Garrison Keillor went into further detail about his version of events:
“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.”
Sometimes a hand ends up under clothing rather than above it (though that’s certainly never happened to me in a work situation), but … six inches is pretty far for a hand to travel by accident.
He describes how they both responded.
“She recoiled. I apologized.”
That sounds pretty standard.
“I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it.”
He says that things changed later.
“We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”
Well, he spins a very compelling story. But, as he noted above, he’s been doing that for longer than most of us have been alive.
Now, based upon Keillor’s own words, we might interpret him as something of clumsy old man, too absorbed in storytelling and his thoughts to realize where he’s putting his hands.
But we haven’t actually heard the woman’s account of this.
While we’re by no means suggesting that Garrison Keillor is Minnesota Public Radio’s very own Weinstein, we have to remember that, particularly when faced with only a single accusation, a man even as notorious as Weinstein might point their own, entirely believable, version of events.
While we only know of one incident, hearing only the accused man’s description of the alleged interaction doesn’t leave us in a place where we’d feel comfortable drawing a conclusion about what really happened.
However, the news of his firing has left fans shocked.
At least, as far as it’s possible to still be shocked by anything, anywhere in 2017.
Just this morning, Donald Trump accused Joe Scarborough of murder in a tweet … and that was after retweeting radical, Islamophobic shock-videos from a fringe right politician in Europe.
Many feel that we’re living in grim times. Often people joke that this is “the timeline God abandoned.”
But others think of the turmoil of 2017 — politically, and in terms of the countless powerful men accused of being sex monsters — as like growing pains.
Or perhaps like the storm before the calm. Maybe the world is in the midst of an upheaval as our society purges its worst elements and prepares to become a better place.
Let’s hope so.