Keillor: MPR fired me without full inquiry
By Jeff Baenen
Garrison Keillor says Minnesota Public Radio was wrong to fire him last week without fully investigating what a senior executive has described as “multiple allegations” spanning an extended period against the former “A Prairie Home Companion” host.
Jon McTaggart, CEO of MPR’s parent company American Public Media Group, addressed the issue at an employee meeting Wednesday. McTaggart didn’t provide details of the allegations against the 75- year-old veteran broadcaster, saying only that he has shared them with lawyers and board members.
MPR News reporters refused to attend the meeting because its contents had been declared off the record, but they compiled a report based on interviews with colleagues who did.
In a statement Thursday morning, MPR insisted it conducted a proper review. The statement said two people formerly associated with the show alleged “multiple incidents of inappropriate behavior” by Keillor, though only one claimed the behavior was directed at her. The St. Paulbased network said it hasn’t made additional details public because the two want privacy.
“The allegations were carefully investigated before MPR made the decision to terminate contracts with Mr. Keillor,” the statement said.
Keillor announced Nov. 30 that MPR had terminated his contracts after four decades of entertaining public radio listeners with tales of smalltown characters. He said he was fired over “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.” Keillor didn’t provide details to the Associated Press but later told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he had put his hand on a woman’s bare back as he tried to console her. Keillor retired as host of “A Prairie Home Companion” in 2016 but had continued to work for MPR on various projects.
McTaggart said Wednesday that no one else in the company knows the content of the “multiple allegations” against Keillor that span an extended period of time.
Keillor told the AP in an email later Wednesday that he was not at the meeting hosted by McTaggart, so he couldn’t provide details of what was said. But he expressed disappointment at the company’s response to the allegations.
“I expect to deal with MPR soon to try to fix the enormous mistake they have made by not conducting a full and fair investigation,” he said.
Keillor’s attorney emailed a statement to AP early Thursday stressing that they know of allegations made by “one individual.”
“We trust that Mr. McTaggart will set the record straight in this respect to avoid any misperceptions on that point,” Eric Nilsson said in the statement.
Keillor said he wants the matter to be resolved quickly and “with it expects a full restoration of his reputation,” Nilsson said.
“A Prairie Home Companion” continues with Keillor’s hand-picked successor, mandolinist Chris Thile.
Meanwhile, Keillor says he plans to go to Mayo Clinic next week for a pacemaker implant.
He told the Star Tribune he was having heart problems and has scheduled an appointment at the Rochester clinic.
Keillor called the matter “pretty routine but still serious” and added, “I’m fine.”
Keillor underwent surgery to repair a heart valve at Mayo in 2001.