Keillor’s Explanation: ‘I Put My Hand On A Woman’s Bare Back’

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter

Garrison Keillor, the former host of the popular radio variety show “A Prairie Home Companion,” was fired Wednesday by Minnesota Public Radio over allegations of improper behavior.

In a statement released after Keillor publicly announced his dismissal, MPR said it had fired the 75-year-old entertainer after learning of learning of “allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him.”

“While we appreciate the contributions Garrison has made to MPR and to all of public radio, we believe this decision is the right thing to do and is necessary to continue to earn the trust of our audiences, employees and supporters of our public service,” MPR President John McTaggart said in a statement.

Following MPR’s announcement, Keillor reached out to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune with an email explaining his version of the incident that led to his firing. According to Keillor, he touched a woman’s bare back while trying to console her over her “unhappiness.”

“I put my hand on a woman’s bare back,” Keillor wrote, according to the Star-Tribune. “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.”

Keillor went on to say that he is known around his radio show as “the least physically affectionate” person in the building. He also said his firing was a bit of “poetic irony” given that he has often been touched by women in a suggestive manner.

“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,” Keillor wrote.

Keillor retired last year from “A Prairie Home Companion,” but still produces “The Writer’s Almanac” for syndication. MPR said Wednesday that it will end distribution and broadcast of “The Writer’s Almanac,” as well as rebroadcasts of “The Best of A Prairie Home Companion hosted by Garrison Keillor.”

Keillor’s firing came just a day after the Washington Post published his column defending Democratic Minnesota Sen. Al Franken against accusations that he groped radio host Leeann Tweeden during a 2006 USO comedy tour.

“Miss Tweeden knew what the game was and played her role and on the flight home, in a spirit of low comedy, Al ogled her and pretended to grab her and a picture was taken,” Keillor wrote in the column. “Eleven years later, a talk show host in L.A., she goes public with her embarrassment, and there is talk of resignation. This is pure absurdity and the atrocity it leads to is a code of public deadliness. No kidding.”

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