November 29, 2017 10:05 PM
Minnesota Public Radio severed all ties to Garrison Keillor on Wednesday morning.
And by Wednesday night, a live theater performance Keillor had scheduled in Massachusets was cancelled.
It all added up to a stunning series of events that followed word from MPR that it is investigating a case of "inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with (Keillor)."
In a statement, MPR said that last month they were "notified of the allegations which relate to Mr. Keillor's conduct while he was responsible for the production of A Prairie Home Companion." They also said they've retained an outside legal counsel to investigate Keillor's conduct.
So far, MPR said "there are no similar allegations involving other staff." However, MPR established a "confidential hotline" for people to call if they have additional information. That number is 1-877-767-7781.
Reached via Facebook, Keillor declined to comment on the matter to KSTP.
"Sir, I thank you for asking but my lawyer tells me not to say anymore," he wrote.
"Hard advice for a radio guy to follow but there it is."
In an earlier email to the MPR newsroom, he said, "I have to respect the privacy of the two employees who made the allegations. I have my own recollection of events, but I don't want to take issue" with MPR's decision.
He went on to say, "I think the country is in the grip of a mania - the whole Franken business is an absurdity..."
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.
Meanwhile, Keillor told the Star Tribune in an email that the allegation he faces 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 in back 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 said he considered her a friend and they remained friendly "right up until her lawyer called."
In his statement to the newspaper, Keillor also seemed to imply he's been the victim of inappropriate conduct by women.
"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."
On Wednesday evening, Keillor issued a statement via Facebook.
"It's astonishing that fifty years of hard work can be trashed in a morning by an accusation," he said in the statement. "I always believed in Hard work and now it feels sort of meaningless. Only a friend can hurt you this badly. I think I have to leave the country in order to walk around in public and not feel accusing glances."
It appeared Keillor later deleted the post.
Keillor was scheduled to appear at a WAMC Northeast Public Radio Event Wednesday at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
The theater had confirmed to KSTP the event was not canceled as of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. However, within an hour a statement was posted on the theater's website canceling the show.
It read: "Per DSP Shows, who had rented The Colonial Theatre, the show with Garrison Keillor tonight, Wednesday, November 29th at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield has been cancelled. Contact BTG's box office at 413-997-4444 for refund information. Berkshire Theatre Group finds any victimization of people deplorable."
Tickets had cost up to $80 for the evening with Keillor and musicians Robin and Linda Williams.
The event description on the theater website reads: "Three old friends from the earliest days of A Prairie Home Companion join together for an evening of harmony and humor, and Mr. Keillor will speak of the beauty of being 75."
As for the future of "A Prairie Home Companion," MPR said the name of the program, which is now hosted by Chris Thile, will change and all reruns with Keillor will no longer be played.
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."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Tom Hauser and Theresa Malloy
Updated: November 29, 2017 10:05 PM
Created: November 29, 2017 04:02 PM
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