Garrison Keillor, the humorist who hosted the popular radio show A Prairie Home Companion for more than 30 years, has been fired by Minnesota Public Radio.
Keillor broke the news himself in an email to the Associated Press, which reported that the decision was made in response to claims of “inappropriate behavior.” Minnesota Public Radio later confirmed the news via Twitter, writing, “Minnesota Public Radio 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.”
Keillor has loomed large in popular culture for decades as a distinguished voice actor, author, and radio host. His show, A Prairie Home Companion, launched in 1974 and ran Saturday evenings, distinguished for its wry humor and popular musical guests. He stepped down from hosting duties last year, but remained attached to MPR as a producer on The Writer’s Almanac for syndication. He’s a recipient of the Peabody Award and the National Humanities Medal, and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1994.
In an expanded statement, MPR clarified that the allegations claim misconduct during Keillor’s tenure as host of Prairie Home Companion and that “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.” No further details on the nature of the alleged behavior were immediately provided.
“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,” the statement reads. “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.”
Earlier this week, Keillor wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post in which he described Minnesota Senator Al Franken’s alleged behavior of sexual harassment as “low comedy,” and made an argument that any talk of his resigning from his position was “pure absurdity” that should not be taken seriously. “Remove the slaveholder Washington from our maps, replacing him with Wampanoag, and replace Jefferson, who slept with Sally Hemings — consensual? I doubt it — with Powhatan, and what about the FDR Drive in New York, named for a man who was unfaithful to his wife?” he continued, sarcastically. “Let’s call it RFD and let it go at that.”
Keillor did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment, but told the Associated Press he was fired over “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.”
He added, “It’s some sort of poetic irony to be knocked off the air by a story, having told so many of them myself, 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. A person could not hope for more than what I was given.”