The latest news on radio icon Garrison Keillor, who was fired by Minnesota Public Radio Wednesday after two employees reported what the broadcaster called "inappropriate behavior":
'Washington Post' to drop Keillor's syndicated columns
Days after carrying an op-ed by Keillor in which he argued the calls for Minnesota Sen. Al Franken to step down are “absurd,” The Washington Post confirmed to USA TODAY that it will no longer run his syndicated columns.
In a statement provided by representative Azhar AlFadl Miranda, editorial page director Fred Hiatt said, “Readers are entitled to a basic level of transparency from the columnists they read in The Washington Post. Garrison Keillor failed to meet that standard this week. Knowing he was under investigation for his workplace behavior, he should not have written a column on that subject; or, if he was going to write, he should have told his editors and readers that he was under investigation. Instead, he wrote a column defending Sen. Al Franken without any disclosure of his own situation.”
He added, “We also are very troubled by Minnesota Public Radio’s report that Keillor engaged in inappropriate behavior in the workplace, a charge that he denies. MPR, which terminated its relationship with Keillor for that behavior, has given us no information beyond the statement they made public.”
Hiatt expressed admiration for many of the weekly columns Keillor submitted as part of the Washington Post syndication service over the last year and a half. Nevertheless, he concluded, "We do not intend to publish his columns in the future.”
Garrison Keillor on firing: 'This is poetic irony of a high order'
In the last two months, the country has read a lot of apology statements from famous men accused of behaving badly toward women.
On Thursday, Garrison Keillor issued a statement in an email to The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, addressing his firing from Minnesota Public Radio after reported "inappropriate behavior" by the 75-year-old host.
"I'm doing fine. Getting fired is a real distinction in broadcasting and I've waited 50 years for the honor. All of my heroes got fired. I only wish it could've been for something more heroic," Keillor said.
MPR communications director Angie Andresen confirmed his dismissal in a statement posted to the broadcaster's website Wednesday that did not detail the nature of the allegations. The organization announced it would “end its business relationship with Keillor’s media companies effective immediately.”
The broadcaster will erase Keillor, one of public radio's most famous voices, from its air and website, including renaming A Prairie Home Companion, the variety show he created in 1974 and hosted until 2016, when he retired and handed over creative control to his handpicked replacement, musician Chris Thile. In addition, MPR will no longer air rebroadcasts of Keillor’s old shows, nor will it produce or distribute his remaining syndicated series, The Writer’s Almanac.
In his statement, Keillor went on to explain one of the two allegations of "improper behavior" lodged against him: "I put my 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. 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 affection person in the building," Keillor said. "Actors hug, musicians hug, people were embracing every Saturday night left and right, and I stood off in the corner like a stone statue."
He continued, "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."
He concluded, "But I'm just fine. I had a good long run and am grateful for it and for everything else."
Radio personality Garrison Keillor through the years