MPR Terminates Garrison Keillor after Allegations of Inappropriate Conduct

November 29, 2017 03:16 PM

Garrison Keillor has been fired by Minnesota Public Radio after allegations of inappropriate conduct.

Sources tell KSTP the termination was in the works for some time.

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MPR issued a statement Wednesday morning, saying the company "is terminating its contracts with Garrison Keillor and his private media companies after recently learning of allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him."

The statement went on to say: "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.

"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.

"MPR will end its business relationships with Mr. Keillor's media companies effective immediately."

That termination includes ending the "distribution and broadcast of The Writer's Almanac and rebroadcasts of The Best of A Prairie Home Companion hosted by Garrison Keillor," changing the name of the weekly program now hosted by Chris Thile, and separating "from the Pretty Good Goods online catalog and the PrairieHome.org website."

In a statement to the Associated Press, Keillor said he was fired "over a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard."

MPR News reported receiving an email from Keillor, which stated, "I think the country is in the grip of a mania - the whole Franken business is an absurdity - and I wish someone who (sic) resist it, but I expect MPR to look out for itself, and meanwhile I feel awfully lucky to have hung on for so long."

Meanwhile, Keillor told the Star Tribune in an email that the incident in question involved him attempting to pat a woman's back after she had told him "about her unhappiness." Keillor wrote that the woman's shirt was open and his hand went up about six inches.

Keillor told the newspaper he apologized when the woman recoiled, and also emailed the woman an apology. He said she replied that she'd forgiven him and "not to think about it."

Keillor reportedly said he considered her a friend and they remained friendly "right up until her lawyer called."

MPR declined to give any details of the allegation against Keillor.

Keillor, who turned 75 in August, retired as longtime host of the popular radio show, "A Prairie Home Companion" in July of 2016. His final episode took place at the Hollywood Bowl before an audience of about 18,000.

"I don't think you should go out onstage after the age of 76," Keillor told The Associated Press at the time. "An entertainer is supposed to go away and have a quiet dotage, and you know, lose your marbles in private and not do this out where people can see you."

Keillor's Saturday-evening variety radio show, which started in 1974, featured tales about the fictional hometown of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota.

After his retirement from "A Prairie Home Companion," Keillor continued to work for MPR on a variety of projects.

Keillor authored many books and contributed to popular newspapers and magazines via his syndicated columns. He also performed live on tours throughout the country. 

On Tuesday, The Washington Post ran an opinion column written by Keillor titled, "Al Franken Should Resign? That's Absurd."

The column addresses a statement from Leeann Tweeden, a morning talk show anchor for California radio station KABC, that Sen. Al Franken forcibly kissed her during a 2006 USO tour to the Middle East. Tweeden also released a photo in which Franken appears to have posed with his hands on her breasts while she slept.

TIMELINE: Franken Allegations

"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. "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."

Franken faces a Senate ethics investigation — which he said he welcomed in the wake of Tweeden's allegation — though it's unclear when that review may begin. Franken said he will fully cooperate.

RELATED: KSTP Interview: Franken Says He Will Address Allegations with Minnesotans Directly

Stay with KSTP.com and 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS for the latest updates on this developing story.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Credits

Rebecca Omastiak & Tom Hauser

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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