On Wednesday, Garrison Keillor, creator and longtime host of A Prairie Home Companion, was fired by Minnesota Public Radio following allegations of sexual misconduct. As part of MPR’s separation from Keillor, there will be no further rebroadcasts of A Prairie Home Companion hosted by Keillor. Additionally, MPR intends to change the name of the program, which is currently hosted by Nickel Creek’s Chris Thile.
Keillor didn’t seem to mind that his 50-year career was ending in scandal, however. In an email sent to the Star Tribune on Wednesday, Keillor appeared to take glee in MPR’s decision. “Getting fired is a real distinction in broadcasting and I’ve waited fifty years for the honor. All of my heroes got fired. I only wish it could’ve been for something more heroic,” he wrote.
He went on to share his side of the alleged incident that led to his dismissal. “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,” he added. “Actors hug, musicians hug, people were embracing every Saturday night left and right, and I stood off in the corner like a stone statue. 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.”
“But I’m just fine. I had a good long run and am grateful for it and for everything else.”
However, later in the day, as Keillor began to realize the full ramifications of his dismissal, he took a more serious tone. In a Facebook post on Wednesday night, Keillor wrote, “It’s astonishing that 50 years of hard work can be trashed in a morning by an accusation. 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.”
He later deleted the public comment, saying in a follow-up post that “he had just had a good conversation with my dear friend who I am married to, on the subject of What Do We Really Need in Life. It’s very simple. I need her and I need to have work to do and I need to live someplace where we can both be happy. I have about ten years of work to do, sitting in my computer. I want to write a couple movies, write a weekly column (preferably humorous), write a book called Gratitude. I think we should move east and leave the past behind.”