Garrison Keillor, the longtime host of “The Prairie Home Companion” public radio show, has been fired from his job at Minnesota Public Radio for “inappropriate behavior.”
Keillor told the Associated Press on Wednesday that he was dismissed over allegations made against him. He said that his firing was over “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.”
He said that the incident involved putting his 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,” Keillor told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”
Keillor on Tuesday published an opinion piece in the Washington Post defending Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) on charges of sexual harassment, while arguing that the senator should not resign from his job.
The 75-year-old Keillor retired from hosting “Prairie Home Companion” last year, although he has continued to take his show on the road with a 28-city bus tour this past summer, and he is writing a screenplay based on his show’s fictional Minnesota town of Lake Wobegon.
In a statement, MPR said it was immediately ending all business relationships with Keillor.
“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. 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.
“The attorney leading the independent investigation has been conducting interviews and reviewing documents, and the investigation is still ongoing. We encourage anyone with additional information to call our confidential hotline 1-877-767-7781,” the news organization said.
“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. We want a workplace where anyone who experiences unwanted behavior feels comfortable in reporting concerns to MPR. Discrimination, harassment, retaliation or other inappropriate behaviors will not be tolerated.”