Minnesota Public Radio has ended ties with Garrison Keillor, the longtime host of the popular radio variety show “A Prairie Home Companion,” over allegations of “improper behavior with an individual who worked with him.”
MPR said in a statement that the network, which produces “Companion,” was alerted of the alleged behavior by the 75-year-old former host last month. As a result, MPR said it was “terminating its contracts” with Keillor, adding that they’ve appointed a special committee to provide oversight in the ongoing case, as well as retained an outside law firm to do an independent investigation of the allegations.
MPR said at this time there were no other known allegations against Keillor from other staffers and encouraged employees to call a confidential hotline with any additional information about the allegations. MPR did not provide details of the allegations. Keillor retired from the show he created in July 2016, when Chris Thile stepped in as host.
Keillor confirmed his firing to the Associated Press, saying there is “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.” Keillor did not elaborate, AP reported.
News of the allegations comes the day after Keillor wrote a column that rebuked the idea that Democratic Sen. Al Franken ought to resign over similar allegations of sexual misconduct. Several women have accused the senator of inappropriate behavior such as groping and unwanted kissing.
“On the flight home, in a spirit of low comedy, Al ogled Miss Tweeden and pretended to grab her and a picture was taken. Eleven years later, a talk show host in LA, she goes public, and there is talk of resignation. This is pure absurdity, and the atrocity it leads to is a code of public deadliness. No kidding,” he wrote for the Washington Post.
Keillor’s ouster is the latest fallout in a series of sexual misconduct allegations against powerful men that began with the highly public accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in October. Many of those men, like Keillor, have worked in media, among other industries. Earlier today, NBC host Matt Lauer was fired for “inappropriate sexual behavior.” The allegations have also extended to “CBS This Morning” co-host Charlie Rose and New York Times journalist Glenn Thrush.
MPR said it will end distribution and broadcast programs hosted by Keillor, change the name of the music and variety program now hosted by Thile and distance itself from the PrairieHome.org website.
“Garrison Keillor has been an important part of the growth and success of MPR, and all of us in the MPR community are saddened by these circumstances,” MPR president Jon McTaggart said in the statement released today. “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.”